Vascular transport maintains all plant functions. Specific examples are the dependence of gas exchange on water supply, the dependence of growth on turgor pressure, and the need to transport sugars and signaling molecules throughout the plant body. In short, large organisms cannot exist without transport systems. If the organisms are long-lived, as trees are, then these transport systems must function over decades and centuries, time scales that may greatly surpass human life spans. Such transport systems must cope with environmental changes and adjust to the growth of the organism over time.
How should these transport systems function? How does their anatomy support their function? How do vascular systems develop? What are the challenges to transport? Cardiovascular diseases cause many problems for human health, and it turns out to be a similar situation for plants. Vascular transport in plants is responsive to abiotic stress, and that in return impacts growth and survival.
Drought and freezing are major research themes in my laboratory. We strive to learn how plants cope with different and variable climate conditions.
You can also look at this from an evolutionary perspective. The evolution of the cuticle, stomata, and vascular tissue led to many changes on our planet. One of the first changes was the formation of forests in the Devonian and Carboniferous. These early vascular plants developed increasingly complex root systems, thereby contributing to soil formation. Along with other photosynthesizing organisms, vascular plants gradually altered the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. The presence of tracheids in plants like Calamites and Sigillaria allowed for the efficient movement of water and nutrients over long distances. The evolution of the bifacial vascular cambium in progymnosperms further relaxed restrictions on height and girth, allowing plants to become even larger. As plants became more efficient in accessing and moving water from the soil to the atmosphere, their role in the global water cycle became increasingly important.
So, the take-home message is there are plenty of reasons to study plants :)
The purpose of our research laboratory is to (1) conduct cutting-edge research in fundamental plant science and, by doing so, to (2) educate and train graduate and undergraduate students.
By looking at the other pages of this website, you will learn about the lab members and our research (we are a productive group!).
Phone: (780) 492 8511; Email: uwe.hacke at ualberta.ca; Address: 442 Earth Sciences Building, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada
Nothing at this time. Two graduate student positions were filled.
This is what you see when driving west of Edmonton...