During my PhD and one-year Postdoctoral position (2010 – 2015) at the Dept. Plant Biology and Ecology (University of Seville) and at the Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of Seville (IRNAS-CSIC) in Spain, my main goals were (i) to assess plant indicators to water stress for optimizing irrigation scheduling in olive orchards, and (ii) to integrate plant physiological knowledge within mechanistic models to understand the mechanisms behind the control of transpiration by stomata in olive and almond species under drought conditions.
I came from Andalucía (a warm, Mediterranean region of Southern Spain) to Tasmania (a cool, temperate island of Southern Australia) in November 2016 to work in A/Prof Tim Brodribb’s lab. My first purpose was to improve my skills using cutting-edge techniques and ‘state-of-the-art’ knowledge about plant physiological response to drought. Drought events are expected to increase over time due to climate change and plant species are especially sensitive to these events. It is crucial to explore the physiological mechanisms underlying plant water stress, one such mechanism is plant hydraulic conductance. Plant hydraulic conductance is the main limitation of the water uptake and transport, and hence, it limits the plant gas exchange affecting productivity, growth, and even mortality. During my first phase as Postdoctoral Researcher at Brodribb’s lab, I mainly focused my investigation on exploring plant hydraulic resistance to cavitation (in olive species) using the novel non-invasive optical method.
In August 2017 I was awarded a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Action grant (AgroPHYS project) by the European Commission, which will allow me to spend two years more at Brodribb’s lab. The central aims of AgroPHYS are (i) to disentangle key physiological mechanisms of plant response to drought focussing on stomatal function and how stomata are controlled, and (ii) to apply that knowledge, combined with new mechanistic model approaches and improved plant sensors, on agricultural species seeking to optimize water use without impacting productivity.