Friends with benefits
Understanding the molecular interactions between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Mutualistic organisms such as Arbuscular Mycorrhizal (AM) Fungi can significantly improve the growth of many plants, including important crops such as rice, maize, and soybean, by providing host plants with increased accessibility to mineral nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. In a project funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, we are exploring this beneficial partnership through the study of model AM fungi Rhizophagus irregularis and Glomus versiforme, and legumes such as Medicago truncatula and Lotus japonicus. Our goal is to discover host and fungal genes/proteins that mediate symbiotic interactions, with a potential application towards improving crop productivity while reducing the input of chemical fertilizers in agriculture.
Rhizophagus clarus and Nicotiana benthamiana. Image taken by Dane Goh