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Francis Martin. © inra, C. Slagmulder

Francis Martin, roots and genes

Since 1981, Francis Martin has been investigating symbiotic mechanisms between fungi and trees. A pioneer in his field and dedicated team leader, he guides his research unit and networks in cutting-edge genomics and metagenomics projects that are globally recognised benchmarks today. Thanks to findings of both local and international significance, and his creativity and drive, Martin is seen as a science forerunner of the highest calibre. He has advanced and shaped our understanding of innovative and promising fields of study.

By Cécile Poulain, translated by Daniel McKinnon
Updated on 02/15/2013
Published on 11/29/2012

“Thirty happy years studying forests and the symbiosis between fungi and trees”. With 200 publications in leading international journals and over 100 conference appearances worldwide, for research director at INRA Nancy, Francis Martin, it’s all in the roots. Today, at age 58, he’s heading up a new Laboratory of Excellence called ARBRE (Advanced Research on the Biology and Ecology of Forests) that enjoys 7.5 million euros of funding over eight years and works together with the forestry industry, France’s National Forestry Office and a dozen of other partners.

- © Import
- © Import
He helms a team of 300 trying to predict the forests of the future in the context of environmental change. “If, as climate models predict, the temperature increases by a few degrees, soil microbial communities will be radically disrupted and primary forestry species like oak and beech will have to adapt or move hundreds of kilometres north in order to survive! What should we be planting now? We must study tree mechanisms for adapting to environmental change, but also study the very important cortege of microbial associates that has existed with trees for more than 400 million years.”