Root Ecology

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Root Ecology

To be announced


In the effort to understand nutrient dynamics in plants and accordingly to improve nutrient uptake and use efficiency in crops, the role of the root system is becoming a new area of interest. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the below-ground world is complex and that various interactions occur between roots and their environment and between roots sharing the same soil volume. Root proliferation and functioning must often be modified to cope with the prevailing conditions in the soil environment such as the avoidance of obstacles and the exploitation of nutrient rich patches or water zones. This post-graduate course focuses on root ecology, how roots grow, function and interact with the surrounding environment. We will discuss differences and similarities between roots in natural ecosystems and roots of agricultural plants and how future research and breeding of agricultural plants can exploit the knowledge obtained from natural systems. Topics dealt with are:

  • Root architecture and foraging
  • Adaptation and plasticity
  • Root strategies and plant life history
  • Root/root interactions
Course Set-up

root_ecology.jpgThe course is composed of a series of lectures, subsequent discussions, working group activities, a poster session, and a ‘hands-on’ day at the root research lab of Copenhagen University. A detailed programme of the course can be downloaded here.

1. Lectures and Discussion
Each day starts with international specialists giving their view on the day’s topic. After each lecture, a discussion of 30 minutes is held, which is convened by about 3 participants who challenge the speaker on the presentation and papers that the speaker submitted and which participants will receive before the course.

2. Poster Carousel
Prior to the course, participants must submit a poster in PDF, which will be printed by the course office (A1-size). The poster must contain your name and affiliation, title and short description of your research project with one highlight (something exciting) and the reason why you want to participate in this course. Posters will be presented and discussed during a poster carousel at the beginning of the course. Posters will remain in the lecture room throughout the course.

3. Working groups
On afternoons (Monday-Thursday) working groups (5-6 persons per group) will envision future development in root research. In these sessions, groups should focus on the cutting edge issue in the field chosen by the group. The ‘million dollar question’ within that field should be defined, presented and justified, and then reshaped by feedback by the speakers and the audience on the Monday evening. Methods and studies which could help answer this question should be suggested and the following three afternoons the groups will work on the assignment writing a position paper or project (pre)proposal. Friday morning groups will present the results.
Note: the invited speakers will stay at least 2-3 days to act as resource persons and interact with participants to support working group activities.

4. Hands-on exercise
On Wednesday we will visit the root research lab of Professor Kristian Thorup-Kristensen in Taastrup, Copenhagen University. Different methods to study roots under field/semi-field conditions will be demonstrated and discussed.


World-renowned experts / lecturers contributing to the course:

General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates and other academics
Group Size Min. 25, max. 40 participants
Course duration 5 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Every three years
Number of credits 1.5 ECTS
Lecturers See above
Prior knowledge Basic knowledge of root ecology is assumed
Location Rotates between University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Wageningen University. Next edition will be at University of Copenhagen.
More information

Claudius van de Vijver (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485116

Lennart Suselbeek (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485426

Registration of interest

At this moment, this course is not scheduled yet. However, if you register your interest in this activity below, we will inform you as soon as the course is scheduled and registration of participation is opened.