Jitka Klimešová: Research of belowground plant organs
Academic Award – Praemium Academiae, the most important scientific award in the Czech Republic awarded by the President of the Czech Academy of Sciences, aims at creating excellent conditions for outstanding researchers so that they can fully devote themselves to their scientific work. Awards of up to CZK 30 million can be used over a period of six years to cover costs associated with research, salaries or the acquisition of technical equipment.
Jitka Klimešová will use the premium to study belowground plant organs, which remain overlooked in plant ecology. Her group has been specializing in belowground plant organs and their functions, such as clonal growth capacity, regeneration after disturbance, and carbon storage, for 25 years. She developed a standard methodology for their description and created the only database of clonal and regenerative properties so far, describing the flora of Central Europe. She plans to test the hypothesis that the inclusion of the properties of belowground plant organs in ecological models will significantly increase the success of their prediction. To test this hypothesis, data collected across continents, in flora with a different evolutionary history and other environmental conditions will be needed, as well as experimental testing of the function of clonal, regenerative and storage organs.
Using experiments, correlative studies and comparative phylogenetics, she will study the parameters of belowground storage and regenerative organs. The aim will be to describe the functional parameters of the economic spectrum of belowground organs and to find out how they affect the function of aboveground organs and fine roots, reproduction, regeneration and competition of plants.
The results can be used to refine climate models (carbon sequestration in herbal communities), to study the evolution of storage organs, which are an important source of food, or to predict the development of vegetation due to global changes, especially the disturbance regime. They may also be very beneficial for agricultural practice.