In the last week of September, the Tree-M team finished its last field campaign in the forest of Caldern. With the help of professional tree climbers, the scientists collected leaves from eight different trees in the university's research forest over the course of four days. It is important to their work that they examine leaves from both the sunny and shady parts of the trees to discover potential differences in microbial communities based on sunlight. This also meant that the climbers had to reach the outer branches high up in the trees.
At the beginning of the field season, a workflow was established in which, once the leaves reached the ground in their sterile containers, images were first captured with hyperspectral imaging and then the leaves were scanned. Finally, they were stored in sterile bags and petri dishes and placed in coolers until they could be processed in the lab that afternoon. This was the fourth and final field campaign of the year and represents the achievement of one of the project's major milestones. Now that the first analyses of the samples and evaluations of the data are to take place in the coming fall and winter, the data set is to be supplemented in a second field campaign next year based on the findings to be gained in this way.
As part of the LOEWE Cluster Tree-M, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Marburg, the University of Giessen and the MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology is investigating the microbial communities living on pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) leaves, as these can influence the health and resilience of the trees. To gain a detailed understanding of these interactions, they are also investigating the complex interactions of these microbes with the biotic and abiotic environmental conditions that prevail in the phyllosphere of oaks.