Sensing Biominerals in Woodland Trees: Building Bridges Across Scales and Methodologies
Pilot project led by Dr. Elizabeth S. Jeffers (Oxford) and Dr. Hugh Mortimer (RAL Space)
Spectroscopy-based metabolomics hold great promise for characterising living systems across scales. Widespread deployment of these approaches can provide repeated measurements of plant metabolites through space and time needed to monitor ecosystem responses to environmental change and ultimately develop management solutions. Achieving this potential requires cross-instrument calibration against direct measurements of target compounds in samples obtained from natural ecosystems and validation of field-based instruments against high-performance lab-based spectroscopy systems. Our cross-council, interdisciplinary working group (WG) will contribute towards meeting these aims through the completion of a pilot project, participation in lab exchanges and hosting a stakeholder workshop. The pilot project will establish evidence for using Raman, FTIR spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging techniques to quantify variability over time and space in plant biomineral content within a natural ecosystem. Lab exchanges will enable the WG to build the bridges between the different but complementary spectroscopy methods and enable us to bridge across the different scales of measurement (i.e. from cells to ecosystems). We will use the results from the pilot study and lessons learned during the lab exchanges to develop a road map for stakeholders on the efficient use of multiple spectroscopy approaches for monitoring plant health in natural ecosystems. This road map will be presented at a stakeholder workshop which will be attended by experts in ecology and spectroscopy from the research, conservation and business communities. The workshop will highlight next steps for technology development, research gaps for calibrating and validating field spectroscopy instruments, and identify current and upcoming funding opportunities to support future projects.