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Professor Ülo Niinemets of the Estonian University of Life Sciences in Tartu has been awarded a 2.3 million euro grant to study stress signals in vegetation.
No Estonian had ever won the endowment, which is bestowed by the European Research Council (ERC). Furthermore, it has happened that many ERC grant recipients have gone on to claim the Nobel Prize.

Professor Niinemets and his 20-strong research team aim to shed light on how stress signals emitted from plants – volatile organic compounds such as terpenes – impact the Earth’s climate. The results may help to solve problems caused by climate change. The name of the project is “Stress-Induced Plant Volatiles in Biosphere-Atmosphere System”.

“The role of the plants in this world has been greatly underestimated,” added professor Niinemets. “In a climate that is changing on a global scale, where stress episodes in plants grow in frequency and strength, the understanding of stress emissions has great practical merit for predicting air quality and climate change,” said Niinemets.
According to a press statement released today by the University of Life Sciences, Niinemets will use the grant to increase his team’s pay to levels enjoyed by other European scientists and hire another four team members. “We already posses a lab for studying airborne particles that is unique in the world, now we will obtain a machine to measure the flow of airborne particles in real time,” added Niinemets.
Estonian Universty of Life Sciences is located in Tartu and is the only university in Estonia whose priorities in academic and research activities include sustainable development of natural resources and the preservation of heritage and habitat.

The University is the center of research and development in the fields of agriculture, forestry, animal science, veterinary science, rural life and economy, food science, and environmentally-friendly technologies. The Estonian University of Life Sciences guarantees students a broad, research-based education in the earth and life sciences.

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20 Dec 2012