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Stable isotopes and P cycling in the soil/plant system

22 June 2015, 2.15pm: Free
at New Seminar Room, Dundee and streamed live to Macaulay B Suite, Aberdeen
for scientists, staff and students
Soil, plants and roots (c) James Hutton Institute

In this seminar, hosted by Courtney Giles and Tim George from our Ecological Sciences group, ​Dr Federica Tamburini (ETH Zurich) will discuss a novel technique that uses oxygen stable isotopes to investigate the P cycle in the soil/plant system.


In the soil/plant system, biological processes greatly influence P cycling, but the extent of their impact is still difficult to grasp. The analysis and use of oxygen stable isotopes in phosphate has allowed investigating more deeply the P cycle in the environment. Indeed, oxygen isotopes in phosphate are sensitive to the action of biological processes, i.e. biological uptake, intracellular P cycling, enzymatic processes. In the last years, we have applied this relatively novel technique to the soil/plant system. In this seminar, the theoretical grounds, the analytical and technical advances and problems, together with some case studies and possible future applications will be discussed.


​Dr Tamburini has always studied the phosphorus cycle, first in marine sediments then in terrestrial ecosystems. She has spent 7 years as a researcher in the Group of Plant Nutrition at ETH Zurich, with a primary focus on the development and application of oxygen stable isotopes in phosphate to study P cycling in soils and plants.

  • MSc in Geology at the University of Urbino (Italy), 1995
  • PhD in Geology at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), 1997-2001
  • Post-doc at the WHOI, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MA, USA), 2002-2003
  • Senior scientist at the Geological Dept. of the ETH Zurich (Switzerland), 2003-2007
  • Senior scientist at the Environmental System Science Dept. of the ETH Zurich (Switzerland), since 2007

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.