Dr. Johannes Postma
Area of research
Current food scarcity demands an increase in agricultural production in the poorest areas of the worlds, where yields are low due to soil infertility. In the near future worldwide food security is threatened by climate change, population growth and our increasing demand for (cleaner) energy. The increasing demand for agricultural production comes at a time at which high oil prices, environmental pollution and fast diminishing phosphorus stock make it clear that the current rate of fertilizer use is unsustainable and must be reduced. Clearly our agriculture must be revolutionized, and the development of resource efficient plants is one of the promising technologies that will bring about this change.
I am interested in resource acquisition and utilization by plants. What strategies do plants follow to invest the limit resources they get, to acquire additional resources, grow and eventually reproduce? The best strategy depends on environmental conditions, and the objective. Survival may have selected for specific strategies in wild type plants, but agricultural production is not necessarily interested in survival, but yield, yield stability and cost reduction. Consequently other resource investment strategies might be more effective.
I am interested in the interplay between shoot growth, which results in additional acquisition of carbon, but also a greater demand for water and nutrients, and root growth, which may increase the uptake of water and nutrients, but requires investment of carbon. Together with others I developed SimRoot, a simulation model which simulates dynamically root architecture, plant resource acquisition and investment. SimRoot is an important research tool for me, and as a model an expression of ideas how the plant might function, and a platform for testing the quantitative logic of theories in plant biology about the function of specific plant traits.
Masters from Wageningen University and Research Center
Assistant researcher at Plant Research International
Researcher at Forschungszentrum Juelich
AdresseForschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2