My research interests are in the fields of plant ecology, ecotoxicology, and climate change. My PhD research focuses on investigation of why plants hyperacumulate heavy metals. A variety of hypotheses have been proposed to explain the trait of metal hyperaccumulation (mh). For example, the elemental defense hypothesis suggests that mh may function as a defense strategy against herbivores, while the elemental allelopathy hypothesis suggests that plants may interfere with neighboring plants through phytoenrichment of metal in the soil surface under their canopies. Moreover Metal tolerance and hyperaccumulation in the following are common traits in many Brassicaceae species.
My research project will explore the two hypothesis of mh on two Brassicaceae species, Arabidopsis halleri and Noccaea caerulescens. Allelopathy will be evaluated as the effect of leaf litter of plants growing with and without heavy metals on the germination of coexisting species. Herbivore defense will be investigated by exposing leaves of these plants to herbivores and measuring the leaf metal content. Finally, we intend to investigate cooperative interactions in A. halleri, whose clonal propagation is expected to play a key role in mh.