Research interests

My current research focus on understanding the impact of climate change on Terrestrial ecosystem respiration. I focus in particular on the impact of environmental variations on plant respiration from genes to ecosystem. My area of study covers Arctic, Temperate and Tropical ecophysiology, Carbon metabolism, Nitrogen metabolism and plant responses to drought, light and nitrogen availability. My current project include:

- Understanding CO2/O2 respiratory fluxes in the light

- Importance of photorespiration on respiratory metabolism

- Organic acids pools in phytoplankton vs plants

- Developing low-cost sensors for plant science

Princeton University Python Community

- Plants and Cities: a better future in a changing climate

- Respiration and Global Climate Change Models


I joined Michael Bender's research team at Princeton University, in collaboration with Kevin Griffin from Columbia University, in December 2012. We developed a new technique, based on oxygen stable isotopes, to measure respiration in the light in plant leaves. 

My previous work at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia was focussed on the effect of drought on respiration. To date, the impact of drought on respiration is still controversial as some studies report an increase, a decrease or no effect of drought on respiratory flux. This controversy becomes even more important when CO2 fertilization in a future world is added to the picture.

In 2010, I obtained a Ph. D in plant physiology at the University Paris Sud, France supervised by Guillaume Tcherkez. My thesis aimed to understand "The metabolic interactom between photosynthesis, (photo) respiration and nitrogen assimilation in C3 leaves". Carbon and Nitrogen metabolism are closely related and respiration seems to be the cornerstone of C:N balance inside leaves. As a consequence, G. Tcherkez and myself showed that TCA cycle is not "cyclic' in the light which is one of the reasons why respiration is inhibited in the light compared to dark respiration.

"Do all you can with what you have in the time you have in the place you are!" Xolani Nkosi