sun with glasses

Heatwave impact on plants

How resilient can plants be to severe heatwaves?

A warming climate means higher climatic variability, including harsher heatwave events. Severe heatwaves impose great stress on plants, increasing the risk of desiccation and, ultimately, hydraulic failure.

Guiding questions:

We investigate these questions through field and lab experiments with native Mediterranean species, continuously monitoring water fluxes and plant status. We analyze the data using time-series tools and machine-learning techniques. Through mathematical modeling, we investigate plant response to expected future climate.

plant circle

Plant optimal control

How can plants best regulate gas exchange, maximizing carbon uptake while minimizing water losses?

In order to make photosynthesis, plants capture CO2 from the atmosphere through the pores in their leaves (stomata). However, at the same time that CO2 enters the plant, water vapor exits. If too much water leaves the plant, it will desiccate and die, so the plant should keep its stomata mostly closed. On the other hand, the plant will starve from lack of carbon if it doesn’t open its stomata. We apply the tools of optimal control theory to study this fascinating problem.

Guiding questions:

fruit tree

Fruit-tree water stress

Can we minimize water stress with smart irrigation scheduling? Can we do it optimally?

salt shaker

Soil salinization

How can we ensure healthy soils for generations to come?


Soil compaction

What are the soil physical changes that follow compaction? How do they affect water and solute dynamics, and ultimately soil degradation?

What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.
— Epictetus