Plant Ecology

Prof. dr. ir. Kathy Steppe

We research many aspects of the dynamic interactions between plants and their environment with a special emphasis on water and carbon fluxes in xylem and phloem. 

Our projects include work on crops and trees in both man-made and natural ecosystems. 

Our research activities range from ecophysiology to the structure and function of plants and the role of plants in the global water and carbon cycle. 

We study the dynamic plant- environment interplay with detailed measurements of the microclimate and on the plant itself using an array of plant sensors. We also apply radioactive and stable isotope tracers and medical imaging techniques (micro-CT, MRI and plant-PET) to visualize and better understand xylem and phloem function. Spatial variability in plant functioning and stress responses is addressed with thermal imaging.

We develop plant models as avenues for improving our understanding on how plants grow and respond to changes in the environments they inhabit. 

We also develop novel plant-based control and stress detection systems.