Weile Chen

Nutrient foraging by mycorrhizal roots.

Weile is funded by the Ecology Graduate Program, ESM Department and the National Science Foundation (IOS 1120482)

My research centers on understanding the nutrient foraging strategies of mycorrhizal roots across temperatre tree species. Both root morphology and mycorrhizal status can influence root nutrient foraging, and how much the mycorrhizas can benefit nutrient acquisition is likely related to root morphology in different species. To study the relationship between mycorrhizal dependence and root morphology in root nutrient foraging, I will conduct experiments in a common garden with trees that vary widely in root morphology and including both ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal species. In order to estimate nutrient benefits from fungi to plant roots in different species, the abundance, community structure and functional diversity of the root associated mycorrhizal fungi will be investigated by phospholipid fatty acids analysis, DNA barcoding and hyphal ingrowth cores, respectively.  Additionally, I will test the influence of inter-specific competition of trees on their respectitve nutrient foraging strategies.

Outside of my work on nutrient foraging of mycorrhizal roots, I am also interested in lots of aspects in belowground ecology, including the root trait variation and evolution, root and mycorrhizal respiration, as well as the seasonal dynamics of soil microbial community across diverse vegetation types.


2007           Dean's Award for Study Excellence, Peking Univ. China
2008           Ping-An Scholarship, Peking Univ. China
2009-2012   Admission Scholarship for Graduate Study, Peking Univ. China
2012-2013   PhD Graduate Huck Fellowship, Penn State Univ.
2012           Fund for Excellence in Graduate Recruitment Award. Penn State Univ.


Weile Chen, Hui Zeng, David Eissenstat & Dali Guo. Variation of first-order root traits across climatic gradients and evolutionary trends in geological time. Global Ecology & Biogeography 22: 846-856.

Wei Wang, Weile Chen and Shaopeng Wang. 2010. Forest soil respiration and its heterotrophic and autotrophic components: Global patterns and responses to temperature and precipitation. Soil biology & Biochemistry 42: 1236-1244.