Ecophysiology of Lithops spp
Lithops (window plants) are subterranean CAM plants that access light via “leaf windows”. The role of these windows and the advantage conferred by a subterranean habit remain to be determined. Prof. Craig Martin (University of Kansas) has a particular interest in these plants and will spend a sabbatical in my lab in 2009 attempting to answer these questions using local species of window plant.
Portulacaria affra’s role in carbon sequestration and habitat rehabilitation
The Rhodes Restoration Groups (R3G) consists of researchers interested in using P. afra both for restoring degraded habitats and sequestering carbon. Current practice has shown remarkable variability in the establishment success of cuttings. This may be related the photosynthetic type of the parent material, P. afra being a facultative CAM species; or may be determined by rainfall influencing the photosynthetic type of the establishing cuttings. Photosynthetic type also effects productivity and may influence plant palatability, issues that are both important in determining quantities of carbon sequestered. Hence my interest is to determine the relationships water availability, photosynthetic type, cutting establishment and plant palatability.