Hi there, I'm Max Larter, welcome to my personal website!
I am a plant ecophysiologist and an evolutionary biologist. My primary research interest is understanding how plants adapt to their environment, and in particular in the face of climate change, with rapidly changing temperature and rainfall patterns. By examining trait distributions of living and extinct lineages, we can gain insight into how key physiological traits have evolved in the past, and what genetic mechanisms enabled that variation. It's becoming rapidly critical to transferring that knowledge into predicting the impacts of climate change on the distributions of wild species and crop health.
More broadly, I'm interested in using combinations of physiological and morphological traits, ecological and climatic data in an evolutionary framework to try and answer cool questions.Read more about my background here.
Herb hydraulics, positive root pressure and drought resistance
I'm currently doing a post-doc with Frederic Lens in the Understanding Evolution research group at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden (NL), where I'm working on drought-resistance and root pressure in herbaceous plants, in particular in family Brassicaceae. This project combines classical plant hydraulics adapted to non-woody species (minimum water potential measurements, cavitation resistance, hydraulic conductance) with xylem anatomy (optical and scanning electron microscopy), micro-computed tomography in-vivo visualization and modeling to aim for a holistic vision of herb hydraulic functioning during drought.
Some plants are known to develop positive root pressure, and this process has been hypothesized to aid in recovering from drought by refilling xylem conduits, thereby allowing growth to resume. We hope to elucidate this potential role of positive root pressure in providing plants with a way to avoid death during drought.
We hope to obtain these data across multiple species within a range of environmental conditions to gain insight into how these traits are coordinated at evolutionary timescales. Finally, we hope to use this dataset to look for support of the hypothesis linking the evolution of increased stem woodiness in herbs to an increase in drought tolerance.
I'm currently looking for students (Bsc. and Msc.)!
The main aim of this project is to further our understanding of the conditions under which positive root pressures develop in the tomato plant, and to test the hypothesis that the ability to generate positive root pressure enhances drought-resistance.
This project proposes to investigate the xylem anatomy of record drought-tolerant conifer genus Callitris (~20 species) using light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This group of southern hemisphere cypresses holds multiple world records in embolism-resistance.
Contact me for more details, or if you'd like to work with me on another topic.