Autumn Science Lecture 2022: Understanding mycorrhizal fungi and their functional role to facilitate healthy soils and ecologically sustainable gardens

An Autumn Science Lecture by Dr Jill Kowal

Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum's Autumn Science Lectures are back for 2022. This year we have five, free online lectures with expert speakers exploring the world of plant microbe interactions.


Join our penultimate lecture, where we're joined by Dr Jill Kowal, Honorary Research Associate at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Her talk title is, 'Understanding mycorrhizal fungi and their functional role to facilitate healthy soils and ecologically sustainable gardens'.

Jill’s interest in vegetation ecology began 30 years ago as a volunteer in ‘urban greening’ projects throughout New York City. She then underwent formal training in horticulture with a Diploma from the Royal Horticulture Society and a subsequent gardener position at Kew Garden’s arboretum for over 10 years. Jill holds an MSc in Plant Diversity from the University of Reading and a PhD from Imperial College London.

Jill’s research focuses on mycorrhizal fungi, the beneficial plant root-fungus mutualism, and how they help nutritionally support plant species in exchange for carbon. One of her main projects at Kew involves developing a protocol to measure and compare their role in carbon sequestration across meadows, broadleaf woodlands and conifer plantations. It is becoming clearer that understanding this plant-fungus mutualism is critical for safeguarding plants in the wild. It is also a pathway towards more sustainable garden communities built on healthy soils, which will be the focus of her talk.

Jill is passionate about building collaborative teams of scientists, horticulturists, policy makers and educators to inspire the rising generations to embrace these principles. Jill has recently joined the Board of Plantlife, co-chairs the British chapter of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden and is a board member of her local community garden in London.

The lecture series will run every other Thursday at 7pm for free and all lectures will be hosted online.

Upcoming speakers include:

1st December - Dr Mark Spencer, forensic botanist - 'It's not all love, peace and harmony; the deadly world of plant/fungal interactions'