The team of Josep Peñuelas, researcher of CREAF and lecturer of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), was selected for a Synergy Grant, the prestigious grant offered by the European Research Council to projects by research groups of renowned excellence with interest in jointly solving vanguard research problems in the field of science.
The selected project is called IMBALANCE-P and aims to quantify and understand how life, society and the Earth will respond to the shortage of phosphorus in the future, as well as to the imbalance between the proportions of nitrogen, phorphorus and carbon found on Earth.
Phosphorus is a scarce yet essential resource of our planet.
It is present in the DNA structure, cell membranes and bones. Agriculturally, it is also essential as a fertilizer and therefore considered to be a basic nutrient in meeting the demands of food in a world with an ever growing population.
Unfortunately, phosphorus is a limited resource and there is no way to synthesize it artificially. In fact, in contrast to carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), which are available in abundance, the amount of phosphorus is small in the majority of natural environments and future tendencies indicate that these amounts will continue to diminish in the following decades. Moreover, this shortage has already produced geopolitical conflicts.
A Macro Experiment in the French Guiana
The team will be conducting experiments in the biomes and cultivations around the world, and will be working on a special macro experiment in the tropical rain forest of the French Guiana, where researchers will be studying the effects of the imbalances between nitrogen and phosphorus in a diversity of biologies, climates, agricultures, etc. They will also be analysing the effects of current and future shortage of phosphorus on food safety and helping to design future scenarios in which food will need to be produced with a limited amount of phosphorus, as well as proposing political actions which can guarantee a sustainable management of the phosphorus cycle.
The global implications of a shortage in phosphorus have never been studied in such an integrated manner.
The contribution of the team to establishing a scientifically based, international diplomatic process on phosphorus will be of great value to life, society and the preservation of the planet.
This collaboration through multiple and diverse disciplines is unique and includes experts in molecular ecology, metabolomics, ecophysiology, diversity, biogeochemistry, atmospheric physics and chemistry, teledetection, agriculture and economy.
This collaboration through multiple and diverse disciplines is unique and includes experts in molecular ecology, metabolomics, ecophysiology, diversity, biogeochemistry, atmospheric physics and chemistry, teledetection, agriculture and economy
Josep Peñuelas, CREAF, Spain; Investigador responsable
Ivan Janssens, UA, Belgium;
Philippe Ciais, UVSQ, France;
Michael Obersteiner, IIASA, Austria.
Títol del projecte: Effects of phosphorous limitations on Life, Earth system and Society (IMBALANCE-P)
Finançament ERC: 13.6 milions d’euros