Novus Scientist Exchange Program Site Visits: Drs. Emanuele Ziaco and Ingo Heinrich

We are pleased to report on the third of our eight scientist exchange program (SEP) site visits! In May 2015, post-doctoral researcher Dr. Emanuele Ziaco (University of Nevada, Reno) visited Dr. Ingo Heinrich (GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam).

The project, titled “Application of confocal laser scanner microscopy to the study of anatomical features and hydraulic adjustments of conifer species,” focused on assessing cellular parameters (including cell diameter, lumen area, and cell wall thickness) of Pinus longaeva cores from Great Basin National Park, NV spanning the last ~250 years. Unlike other methodologies, the use of confocal laser scanner microscopy (CLSM) allows for non-destructive and semi-automated data collection. Inter-annual variability in cellular parameters can then be linked to tree growth patterns, and climatic and ecological trends and disturbances. Relationships between wood anatomy and climatic disturbance could then be used to assess the vulnerability of forests to increasing drought and water stress predicted under future climate change scenarios. In addition, these measurements will provide the first century-scale chronology of wood anatomical features for conifers in the United States.


Dr. Ziaco prepares samples for imaging using the confocal laser scanning microscope

During the SEP visit, the team developed a protocol for sample preparation to produce high-quality digital images using the CLSM. Measurement of wood anatomical characteristics from these images is currently underway at the DendroLab at the University of Nevada, Reno. Complete chronologies of wood anatomy and growth will then be linked to climate and disturbance records.

In their interaction reports, both members of the team expressed their satisfaction with the collaboration and the Novus SEP. Dr. Ziaco stated that the program was “a great experience” and “represents a unique opportunity for those researchers who are looking for a chance to build up international networks.” Dr. Heinrich said he was not previously familiar with the Novus RCN, but when approached by Dr. Ziaco, he “liked the idea from the beginning” and has been “greatly satisfied” with the Novus SEP.

We are pleased to have helped develop a collaboration between two prominent dendrological labs and look forward to hearing more about this project! Keep an eye on the Novus blog for updates on this and other Novus SEP site visits!

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