Mingzhen Lu

Mingzhen  Lu

Mingzhen Lu

Graduate Student

I’m interested in nutrient foraging strategies of plant root in forest ecosystems. Root nutrient foraging strategies cope with abiotic environment and biotic neighborhood. While discovering novel root nutrient foraging strategy that adapts to nutrient limitation is part of my passion, my current work mainly focuses on investigating how individual trees play a strategic game with other trees belowground and its consequences for individual performance, assembly of plant community and the efficiency of nutrient cycling

I plan to use theoretical modeling, greenhouse experiments and field studies to approach my question. I developed a mathematical model based on marginal cost-benefit analysis and game theory, which showed how roots respond to both the abiotic soil environment and the biotic neighborhood in optimization and game theoretical scenarios. In order to test the general theories of belowground root interactions and some of my model results, I’m currently setting up a greenhouse experiment that uses tree seedlings to determine how plant roots respond to conspecific neighbors and neighbors from other species. I will monitor belowground root interactions with the help of state-of-the-art technology that can produce 3D pictures of plant roots without disturbing the soil. My field site is in Panama.