Maximilian Larter

Maximilian Larter

I am an ecophysiologist and an evolutionary biologist. I use a combination of approaches, from experimental plant physiology to phylogenetics and evolutionary models to investigate how plants adapt to different climates. For my PhD at the Université de Bordeaux (2016), I worked on the evolution of drought resistance in conifers. I am now working there again, staying involved with Naturalis as a guest researcher.

My postdoc project at Naturalis focused on drought resistance in herbaceous plants of family Brassicaceae, and the role that positive root pressure could play in dealing with severe drought conditions and the resulting disruption of the water transport system. It's funded through NWO grant ALWOP.488.


Ecophysiology, wood anatomy, root pressure, embolism resistance, drought, evolution, Brassicaceae, herbs

Dr. Maximilian Larter

Guest Researcher (postdoc)
Functional Traits



My main interest is understanding how plants have become so diverse, widespread and successful even in the world's harshest environments.

We are seeing the impacts of climate change on the world's forested ecosystems, with massive fires and insect outbreaks further compounding the effects of lack of water during droughts and heatwaves. My research addresses this by studying how plants have evolved strategies to deal with the risk of hydraulic failure.
I study the link between plant hydraulics (embolism resistance, root pressure) and xylem anatomy (inter-conduit pits) and climate, all brought together in an evolutionary context, to understand how drought and aridity have shaped plant evolution in the past, and how trees and herbs will adapt, looking into the future.

Sampling Callitris in Western Australia
Brassica during drought


A selection of the topics I am working on currently.

QTL experiment in Brassica oleracea

QTL experiment with giant woody cabbage

What are the key regulatory genes involved in wood formation? And are these regulatory genes the same in all independent woodiness transitions? And how much overlap is there between the regulatory pathways leading to woodiness and drought? To this day…
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