The secrets of mycorrhizal fungi

The recent publication of an article titled “Mycorrhizal dominance reduces local tree species diversity across US forests” by Alexis Carteron, Mark Vellend and Étienne Laliberté in Nature Ecology & Evolution made the news at UdeM Nouvelles. The authors of the publication have discovered that mycorrhizal fungi has a significant impact on the diversity of tree species in North American forests.

The article can be read on the Nature Ecology & Evolution website.

The IRBV contributes to the Legume Data Portal

Scientists collaborate to create a verified global legumes checklist

Led by researchers at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), Université de Montréal, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialist botanists from around the world published the first community endorsed and verified list of legumes (family Leguminosae or Fabaceae) under the umbrella of the Legume Phylogeny Working Group (LPWG). The legume list is available on the new Legume Data Portal dedicated to communicate information about the legume family.

Coupled with the checklist, a Legume Data Portal was created with the support of GBIF to disseminate legume-related data. The LPWG was chosen by GBIF to develop as a pilot project a portal hosted by GBIF to showcase both GBIF-mediated occurrence data on legumes and the expertise of the international community on the taxonomy and evolution of the family.

To find out more, have a look at the press release.

Photo 1: A rare species of Hoffmannseggia from the lomas vegetation of coastal Peru, photographed by Gwil Lewis, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, taken in November 2018 [orange flowers]

Photo 2: A rare species of Lupinus from the lomas vegetation of coastal Peru, photographed by Gwil Lewis, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, taken in November 2018 [blue-purple flowers]

Job offer in Étienne Laliberté’s laboratory

A position of part-time research assistant in Étienne Laliberté’s laboratory has just opened. The schedule will vary according to tasks to be done, for a total of 180 hours between 3 February and 29 April 2022.

The assistant will be called to perform chemical analyses of leaf samples as part of the Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO) project.

– Preparation of leaf sample for various measures (weighing, grinding)
– Chemical analyses

You will find the complete information in this PDF document.

Winners of the 2021 photo contest

The organizers of the IRBV photo contest would like to congratulate all of the applicants, as the competition was fierce this year with over 20 applications and almost 100 photos submitted. The winners of the IRBV 2020 photo competition are:

Scientists In Action category: Audréanne Loiselle
Peaty contemplation

Life At The IRBV category: Béatrice Bergeron
Researchers’ Night 2021 (credit: Space for Life, Mélanie Dusseault)

Field / Greenhouse / Laboratory category: Étienne Lacroix-Carignan
The hawthorn picker

Flora And Fauna category: Charles Picard-Krashevski
Little Giant

New millionaires among us

Congratulations to our collegues Étienne Laliberté and Anne Bruneau who were just granted an important amount (1.2M$ for 2 years) by the IVADO consortium in artificial intelligence, in the category Biodiversity and climate change. Besides Étienne and Anne, the team includes Christopher Pal (Polytechnique Montréal), David Rolnick (McGill University) and Oliver Sonnentag (Université de Montréal). The team will be developing various remote sensing technologies such as phenocams and drones to study the phenology and biodiversity of plants at various spatial scales. They will conceive new algorithms based on recent developments in the fields of computer vision and meta-learning to map out plant species and their phenologic signatures. Congratulations to the whole team!

Two of the ten most important scientific discoveries of 2021 are from the IRBV

Every year, a jury comprising researchers and scientific journalists publishes their top 10 most important discoveries of the year in Québec Science magazine. For the year 2021, two of these discoveries were made at the IRBV!

The first of them belongs to Eszter Sas, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Frédéric Pitre and Michel Labrecque. She has found that besides being efficient at decontaminating wastewater, willows produce a significant quantity of biomass that can be used to produce special molecules with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are useful in the prevention of cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, they can also be used for the production of biofuel. This research, which took place in Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan, also involves many other members of the IRBV.
Find out more about this project

The second of these important discoveries belongs to Simon Joly from the IRBV, in partnership with Daniel Schoen from McGill University. They have confirmed Darwin’s 150-year old hypothesis on cleitogamous flowers. The latter flowers, said to be “invisibles” as they never open, allow the plants to reproduce in the absence of pollinators. The researchers have found that this type of flower is more frequent in species with bilateral symmetrical flowers. Why? Because these species are pollinated by fewer insects and henceforth less likely to get pollinated. The cleitogamous flowers they bear give them this assurance that they will be able to reproduce.
Find out more about this project

You are invited to vote for your favorite discovery on the Québec Science website.

Gilles Vincent member of the Order of Canada

Gilles Vincent, currently an associate researcher at the IRBV, has just been made a member of the Order of Canada for his his leadership in the botanical garden community and for advancing phytotechnologies at home and abroad.

Gilles was a botanist at the IRBV and the Montreal Botanical Garden for many years before becoming director of the Botanical Garden until 2014. He has since been a special consultant at the Chenshan Botanical Garden in Shanghai where, in partnership with the IRBV, he pursues his research on the use of plants for the treatment of wastewater.

Gilles has significantly contributed to the development of the IRBV and the Montreal Botanical Garden. This is not his first prestigious honour, as he was made a member of the Ordre national du Québec in 2014.

Congratulations Gilles!

Jacques Brodeur is awarded the Acfas Michel-Jurdant Prize

The 2021 Acfas Michel-Jurdant Prize for environmental sciences has been awarded to Jacques Brodeur from the IRBV.

Read (in French) on the ACFAS website. Here’s an extract:
Il est inspirant d’observer de près les mécanismes du vivant où se joue un jeu complexe de relations allant de la symbiose au parasitisme. C’est dans le vaste champ de la lutte biologique que le lauréat a planté ses travaux. Il recrute bactéries, champignons, parasites et prédateurs pour en faire des “guerriers naturels” pouvant réduire ou détruire les populations d’organismes indésirables. Ses travaux se déploient tant du côté des champs agricoles que des espaces verts urbains, des lieux caractérisés par un dénominateur commun: des populations animales et végétales trop peu diversifiées, donc instables et vulnérables.

Jacques talks about his research in this video found on Youtube.

Étienne Normandin is awarded the Léon-Provancher Prize

Étienne Normandin has just been given the Léon-Provancher Prize, professional category, by the Société d’Entomologie du Québec. The purpose of this prize is to reward the remarquable accomplishments of professional entomologists. Even though he is still at the beginning of his career, Étienne is already getting recognized as a star entomologist.

Photo: Julie-Éléonore Maisonhaute, president of the SEQ, presents a plaque to Étienne.