Using Plants to See the Climate Change Future

Plants in Dr Qaderis lab1When Mount Saint Vincent Professor Mirwais Qaderi is looking for evidence of climate change, he need only to walk from his office to the university’s Physiological Plant Ecology Lab.

By examining seeds germinating in special chambers in one corner or by comparing the leaf structure of two similar plants grown in slightly different conditions across the lab, the Assistant Biology Professor can use small plants to document the big impacts of the world’s changing environment.

“In the lab, we’re able to create controlled environments, designing experiments to include multiple components of climate change, like temperature, carbon dioxide, drought, and UVB radiation,” said Dr. Qaderi. “Working with students, we’ve now published several papers on the combined effects of climate change factors on a variety of plants, from weeds to crop plants like canola.”

Working with equipment supported by two Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT) awards totaling $255,838, Dr. Qaderi’s team will continue to provide the tools and information to influence the fight the harmful impacts of climate change in horticulture, agriculture and even wildlife biology.

The physiological plant ecology lab is equipped with special chambers that enable Dr. Qaderi to finely control a variety of environmental factors. As well, a powerful microscope enables the detailed dissection of plant components. Additional analytical equipment measures plant emissions and hormones.

Dr. Qaderi holds an MSc and a PhD in plant science from Western University, and an MSc in plant biology from Kabul University. He was enticed to the Mount from the University of Calgary in 2010 by the opportunity work of the climate change issue

In addition to contributions from the NSRIT, Dr. Qaderi’s lab is supported by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Mount Saint Vincent University.

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