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Professor Dr

Rainer Matyssek

Year of election: 2013
Section: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
City: Munich
Country: Germany

Research

Rainer Matyssek, since 1994 head of the Chair of Ecophysiology of Plants at Technische Universität München/Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan, is distinguished by diverse substantial contributions to the research field of experimental plant ecology. Emphasis has been on the process-based clarification of biotic and abiotic interactions of forest trees with related effects on plant-internal resource turnover and resulting structural and functional differentiation. The ecological context enabled the experimental field and indoor investigations to provide knowledge about climate change and associated air pollution effects on mechanisms of competitiveness, stress tolerance and site adaptation in woody plants.

Pursued has been an organismic perspective that integrates the relevant spatio-temporal scales of plant persistence, ecology and evolution - both plant-internally, as linked to molecular processes, and regarding the resource-related interrelationships of plants as components of stands and ecosystems. Demonstrated were plasticity-driving effects of - in particular - biotic interactions on the regulatory capacity of plants during resource allocation, whereby the "Growth-Differentiation-Balance Theory", being fundamental in plant sciences, gained in mechanistic precision and extension.

Integrated was the clarification of effects of enhanced tropospheric ozone regimes as a component of climate change, having become crucial globally for the carbon sequestration and storage capacity of trees and forest ecosystems. To this end, a worldwide unique free-air canopy-level ozone fumigation system was conceptually designed and employed throughout several years on adult forest trees under stand conditions, and stable isotope analysis was advanced through a novel canopy-level 13CO2 labelling system. Tree productivity and allocation were proven to be limited by ozone substantially, although in species-specific ways. A methodology was established for deriving canopy-level ozone uptake through stomata (i.e. the actual whole-tree ozone dose) in forest trees from xylem sap flow through tree trunks, enabling functional approaches of risk assessment and cause-effect related modelling. The latter aspects represent interfaces to applied research, socio-economy and environmental policy making.

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