Associate Professor Ruzhen Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences is visiting the Sydney Institute of Agriculture for 12 months conducting collaborative research with Associate Professor Feike Dijkstra.
They are investigating how much plants rely on nutrient uptake from the soil versus internal recycling of nutrients within plants for their growth under drought stress. Plants take up nutrients from the soil, but can also recycle nutrients internally by retaining nutrients from leaves just before they die and drop, so that the same nutrients can be reused for new growth.
This recycling of nutrients may be particularly important when it becomes too difficult for plants to take up nutrients from the soil, such as under drought conditions. Better understanding of recycling of nutrients under drought conditions Is particularly critical for Australian crop production, given that large parts of Australia are becoming hotter and drier.
Associate Professor Wang and Associate Professor Dijkstra research work will bring new knowledge for plant-soil nutrient dynamics. They are using novel stable isotope techniques to disentangle the relative roles of nutrient uptake and recycling in plant growth under drought stress, which has rarely been done and which has largely been neglected by the science community.
Associate Professor Wang explains “The natural environment is really nice in Sydney, and a very comfortable place to live and work. Australian people are friendly and always happy to help researchers from overseas. The University of Sydney is a great place to collaborate on research projects. You can achieve a lot and build up a solid base for your career."