Research: Dr Matt Saunders

An ongoing project is the study of water use efficiency – how a plant uses and conserves water – in the important bioenergy crop, Miscanthus. The study is investigating how environmental factors (light, temperature, humidity, soil water availability) influence rates of leaf-level transpiration, growth and biomass production. The group have also been looking at water relations (how water moves through a plant) of willow to assess the potential of these trees for use in constructed waste-water systems in Ireland. They are measuring sap-flow and transpiration rates from the plants to determine their handling capacity in a zero-discharge waste-water system.

Experimental Miscanthus and willow mesocosms have been set up at the garden, together with a specially designed meteorological (MET) station to monitor and log data on the ambient environment conditions in which these plants are growing.