Team of Plant ecophysiology and biosphere-atmosphere interactions led by Ü. Niinemets:
The team investigates acclimation and adaptation responses of plants to key environmental drivers and studies the feedback mechanisms between plant carbon balance, volatile emissions, and atmospheric characteristics and climate. In addition to wild plants, stress responses and tolerance of existing and potential crop species are studied to contribute to food security under future climates. The work is conducted at all levels of biological organization from genes to globe using experimental and modeling techniques.
Team of Plant ecology and diversity led by M.Zobel:
The team focuses on diversity patterns in ecosystems, and on the underlying biological interactions, with particular focus on two groups of organisms: plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Plant and fungal diversity and assembly rules are investigated in forest and grassland ecosystems under different land use regimes.
Team of Macroecology and ecoinformatics led by M. Pärtel:
The team studies large-scale drivers of biological diversity, encompassing phylogenetic, functional and genetic diversity components. They apply ecoinformatics by integrating biodiversity and environmental data, and elaborating algorithms to test ecological hypotheses. Particular focus is placed on exploring species that have the potential to inhabit a local habitat but are absent (the dark diversity).
Team of Global biodiversity, led by U. Kõljalg:
The team investigates theoretical and practical aspects of DNA sequence-based taxonomy and phylogenetics with an emphasis on fungi. The expertise and IT tools developed are utilized in high-throughput DNA sequencing based analyses of fungal communities, targeting questions connected with global fungal diversity under current and future climates. The team is developing a digital repository for storing, managing, sharing and publishing biodiversity data from all organism groups.
Team of Ecotechnology and landscape biogeochemistry led by Ü. Mander:
The team studies environmental and biological controls on carbon and nutrient storage and cycling and greenhouse gas emissions under global change. Among the biological controls, they focus on the root-mycorrhizosphere, the microbial community structure of soils and the abundance and diversity of functional genes in natural and managed wetlands, abandoned and restored peatlands, forests and croplands. The team also characterizes the productivity and carbon balance of potential food and biofuel crops.
Conservation and agricultural ecology, individual researcher J. Liira:
In addition to the research teams, an individual researcher, Jaan Liira, is included. He has specific expertise in conservation and agricultural ecology and particularly strengthens these aspects of the proposal. Involvement in the center of excellence will allow him to develop his own research team.