Gunnar-Oquist-Fellows-2015_ASJudith Felten and Olivier Keech received this year's Gunnar Öquist Fellowships. Öquist (left) and Carl Kempe handed over the fellowship diplomas. Photo by Bio4Energy.Bio4Energy researcher at the Umeå Plant Science Centre has won one of two Gunnar Öquist Fellowships awarded today at Umeå University in Sweden. The award sponsored by the Kempe Foundations is a recognition of scientific and personal merit and comes with stipend of 3.05 million Swedish kronor (€330,000). Professor Emeritus Gunnar Öquist, himself a plant physiologist, is said to be one of Umeå University's most well-known scientists internationally. He is also a long-standing member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Every Gunnar Öquist Fellow receives his mentorship.

"I am very honoured to receive this award", said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., who is affiliated with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

"We were both very surprised", she added on behalf of herself and her UPSC colleague and plant physiologist Olivier Keech who received the second fellowship.

A cell and molecular biologist, Felten recently has been studying the cell walls of tree roots and fungi and the changes that both undergo as they create a symbiosis referred to as ectomycorrhiza in the soil around the roots of a tree. Ectomycorrhiza is believed to favour tree growth. Giving a presentation as part of the award ceremony, the German-born researcher referred to her area of study as targeting the "secret life that goes on beneath the surface" in forests soils.

"In order for the symbiosis between fungi and tree to work fundamental change in the cell wall both in the root and fungal cells are required", Felten was quoted as saying in a press release from the SLU.

Felten came to Sweden and the SLU in 2010 to take up a postdoctoral position as part of a research group led by Bio4Energy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., professor at the SLU. Presently she is about to start her own research group.

"I am going to hire a person to work specifically on what effect of the hormone auxin, which forms both in the root and the fungus, has on changes in the cell wall during the formation of ectomycorrhiza", Felten said.

She was part of the team behind a previous research breakthrough in Bio4Energy on auxin transport in plants.

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Umeå University each published a press release on their new Gunnar Öquist Fellows.

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