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Atlas of Root Systems Saved from Limbo and available online

Atlas of Root Systems Saved from Limbo and available online

It is a sleeping treasure that lies at the Institute of Botany in Austria. In Klagenfurt, to be exact, on the shores of Lake Wörthersee. Fortunately, it was rediscovered in the fall of 2006 by Dutch researcher Claas Metcilar, who specializes in soil physics. Whoever decides, dazzled, to make it accessible to everyone.

This treasure combines art and science, combining an exceptional collection. It combines 1,002 ink drawings, using an educated and inspiring pen, depicting plant rooting systems from Central Europe, Mongolia, Namibia … to the eye, marvel. For your information, selections can be drawn from.

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This gemstone is the result of forty years of almost relentless and intense pursuit, which began in the 1960s. Four decades of excavations for species of all kinds: cultivated plants or weeds, meadows, forests and swamps; Alpine shrubs, wild orchids, etc. Variety is more impressive because this group is the result of the work of only four researchers. The instigator of this group, Lore Kutschera (1917-2008), was a passionate Austrian naturalist. She is one of my heroines, Confie Klaas Metselaar. When I met her, she was almost 90 years old. She took me with a colleague to the top of a mountain: there she sat to describe the roots of this atlas, while she contemplated the valley. “ A sign of academic freedom.

“Monk’s work”

“When I discovered this atlas, I inhaled, The researcher continues. The original designs amazed me, even when realizing the work they stand for. “ The authors had to painstakingly pull each end of the root, making sure it wouldn’t break, and ascending to its base. Then go back to wipe the entire system. Finally, draw it. “The monk’s work is as laborious as copying a medieval manuscript.” Difficult? Not for root fans. Thus Laure Cochira spent many vacations digging. As for his colleague Edwin Leichteniger, he spent many evenings drawing pencil sketches in the field.

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At that time, we were not aware of the importance of root systems. “But today we are discovering their interest in agricultureThomas Kuiper, professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, notes. Multiple cultures are developed, the most ecological. By playing on the root systems of different species, we can reduce competition between them, thus increasing plant productivity. “

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