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Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2024-03-01 - 2027-02-28

SoilRise aims to extent expertise and knowledge on soil biota in academic and public networks as a basis of utilisation of citizen science in monitoring duties below ground. Biodiversity monitoring is mostly limited by missing expertise, money and time. Belowground biota is even harder to describe, count, or characterize due to its cryptic mode of life. However, soil biota is crucial for the functioning of all terrestrial ecosystems including land use systems. Sustainable land use relays on ecosystem service provisioning of soil biota. Hence, monitoring is of great importance. SoilRise will create a system of teachers training to multiply knowledge and expertise among gardeners and farmers which will be enabled to monitor parts of soil biota to a certain level of taxonomy, activity, or functional diversity. SoilRise will start and exemplify this for earthworm communities in farmland (arable or grassland) and urban gardens and greens. Finally addressing networks of urban gardeners and farmers associations, SoilRise will develop a multiplication of expertise by implementing earthworm monitoring practises into teaching at universities and even farm schools. Students then go to their home rural communities (farmer associations) or stage citizen science events in urban gardens related to gardener networks. In the long run, well educated citizen can provide earthworm monitoring data of high value complementing biodiversity monitoring in the cultural landscape of Europe
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-08-01 - 2025-07-31

The MoFAB project is submitted within the framework of the R&D infrastructure funding - 3rd call of the FFG: At the University and Research Center Tulln, a Phenomobile (field vehicle for the recording of plant characteristics) is procured, equipped with a customized 3D fusion sensor consisting of laser scanner with spectral, respectively thermal camera, and prepared for field measurements. The fusion sensor will be calibrated and validated using a grapevine pot experiment on networked field scales, handheld sensors, and destructive measurements, and used in drought stress experiments under a mobile greenhouse and in field trials. The fusion data will be used, with algorithms, to develop data pipelines for new crop traits. A combine with integrated phenotyping equipment (weighing system, NIRS) will be procured, and used to reference traits determined with the Phenomobile. A particular focus is the development of absolute and comparable measurements of leaf nitrogen content and stomatal conductance, useful traits for developing feedback loops for digitizing agricultural nitrogen and water management and selection in breeding.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-04-01 - 2026-03-31

Susceptibility of grape berries to stressors such as drought or heat changes according to the stress intensity and duration, but also depending on the berry developmental status at stress occurrence. For example, grapes in the herbaceous phase are more susceptible to drought stress than berries in the ripening stage. Drought and heat stress, which are predicted to increase in frequency and magnitude due to climate change, share a common effect in increasing the production of cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) in plant cells. While ROS are produced basally as signaling molecules, and plants have adapted mechanisms to detoxify them, stressful conditions increase their production. Given the economic importance of Vitis vinifera for the wine industry in Austria (and worldwide), it is important to understand how ROS metabolism interacts with other metabolic pathways active at the different stages of berry development, and therefore the effects of the timing of ROS-inducing stress factors. The inability to detoxify ROS may cause changes in berry metabolism and development that affect harvest quality, such as by increasing lipid oxidation, membrane damage, and subsequent cell death, the latter of which can cause symptoms such as berry shriveling in extreme cases. The project will explore the different strategies that grape berries could adopt to counteract an increase in ROS molecules produced in response to stressors, including the boost of the antioxidant pool (or de novo biosynthesis of antioxidant molecules) and the modification in the expression of ROS scavenging enzymes. The ROS scavenging capacity of developing grape tissue will be quantified by enzyme activity assays and gene expression analysis. Damage in berries caused by ROS will be quantified following drought and heat imposition in terms of the extent of lipid oxidation, cell death and changes in berry composition.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations