Johanna Cantillo

Johanna is co-advised by Liz Van Volkenburgh and Soo-Hyung Kim (SEFS-UW) since 2012. She is mostly interested in the water relations between epiphytes and trees trough canopy roots and the role and importance of these roots under adverse conditions of water availability.

Tropical and temperate tree branches have the ability to sprout adventitious roots into epiphyte mats, however the activity (uptake of water or nutrients) of these “adventitious canopy roots” has not been confirmed or measured. Epiphyte mats are potentially important reservoirs of water and nutrients for the survival of heat-stressed trees, making these resources available to a high crown without fighting gravity. Understanding water relations between epiphytes and trees is the first step toward a greater comprehension of the overall crown microclimate and the physiological implications of epiphytes on tree growth and survival under heat stress.

To determine the importance of canopy roots, her research project addresses different scientific disciplines, including ecological, physiological, anatomical and morphological appro
aches. In order to simulate the same conditions of mutualism between epiphytes and host trees, she has initiated greenhouse experiments with poplar trees (Populus trichocarpa), promoting adventitious roots from the branches and using dye (i.e. acid fuchsin) and hydrogen isotopes to track water movement from the canopy roots to the host tree.

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Greenhouse experiments with poplar trees that have developed canopy roots.