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Signing of a new Franco-Australian International Associated Laboratory on isotopic biomarkers for the plants water and carbon cycles

The new international laboratory "iWUE: Isotopic biomarkers of water use efficiency and carbon allocation" is set up for five years by INRAE, the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Angers. Bringing together scientists from the Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences (IRHS) in France and the Research School of Biology at the ANU, under the co-coordination of Professors Guillaume Tcherkez and Graham Farquhar, this IAL contributes to the scientific linkage between its partners and thus their international recognition. The objective is to trace water and carbon cycles and discover isotopic markers of crop performance.

Published on 01 March 2024

illustration Signing of a new Franco-Australian International Associated Laboratory on isotopic biomarkers for the plants water and carbon cycles

A collaborative scientific project on plants functioning for resources use

The scientific project elaborates on skills of both partners, and deals with isotopic, photosynthetic and post-photosynthetic aspects, towards a better understanding of relationships between carbon assimilation, transpiration, and allocation between sink and source organs, to identify quantitative markers associated with traits of interest such as water use efficiency, harvest index, or carbon use efficiency.

The project thus aims to link isotope facilities to enhance analytical capabilities and promote innovation in isotope analysis, and also to provide advances in the field of stable isotopes applied to plant physiology, via either modelling or experimental work.

The IAL will be an opportunity to develop scientific exchange and travels between involved laboratories, and also training of postgraduate students under joint supervision, research-based training of undergraduate students, or training, travel and accommodation of PhD students

Combining advanced expertise in isotope techniques

The three IAL’s partners have a strong history in research with stable isotopes. Important results and applications stem from research works conducted at ANU using carbon isotopes and their relationship with water use efficiency.

More recently, advances have been made by partner laboratories on water relations using hydrogen and oxygen isotopes, protein synthesis in grains and seeds using nitrogen isotopes, or harvest index in wheat using carbon isotopes. Also, the partners have excellent facilities for isotope analyses, with complementary methods and equipment.

Taken as a whole, there is presently an excellent opportunity to associate the partners not only to promote research on isotopes in plant biology, but also to enhance capabilities of isotope facilities and thereby create a Franco-Australian isotope hub.

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