Smith Lab News
January 16, 2019:
The Spring 2019 semester begins
Today is the first day of the Spring semester. This semester Nick will be
teaching Physiological Plant Ecology, an upper-level course for advanced
undergraduates and graduate students. The course will cover a mix of foundational
research in the field as well as some more recent trends. If you are interested in
learning more, please don't hesitate to contact
Nick or check out the course
GitHub repo where
all the course material will be posted.
January 4, 2019:
NEW LAB PUBLICATION!
Nick led a study to examine the drivers of leaf-level photosynthesis,
specifically the maximum rate of Rubisco carboxylation, commonly termed Vcmax.
This rate is important for determining how much carbon plants take up via
photosynthesis. However, Vcmax is known to be quite plastic over space and time,
making it difficult to predict at large spatial and temporal scales.
The authors further developed a theory for predicting optimal rates Vcmax,
with optimization meaning maintenance of maximum carbon uptake at the lowest
cost. The theory was driven by climate and light availability alone.
When tested against a global observational dataset of Vcmax,
the theory did quite well, explaining >60% of the variation in the observations.
The results suggest that light available and biophysical constraints due to climate
determine large scale patterns of Vcmax.
The results also suggested that soil fertility was not a major driver of
Vcmax at these scales, an effect that contrasts with theory implemented in
Earth System Models (ESMs).
The theory is a much simpler representation of acclimation than that
is currently used in ESMs, thus providing a way to simplify these complex models,
improving the reliability of their future predictions.
The study was published online in
Smith, NG, TF Keenan, IC Prentice, H Wang, IJ Wright,
Ü Niinemets, et al. (2019). Global photosynthetic capacity is optimized to the
environment. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.13210.
Comparison of Vcmax as predicted by optimization and observed
in a global dataset. Data are colored by the Koppen climate class
of the site where the data were taken.
January 1, 2019:
It was big year for the lab!
Field sites were established, experiments were done, and papers were published.
The lab added many new members and saw others move on to bigger and better things.
Check out all the previous year's new in the
On to a fun, productive, science-filled 2019!
Youngest lab member, Marlo Smith,
stares down a Guadalupe Mountain sunrise.