Fungi; Epigenetics; Plant communities; Plants; Genetics; Agriculture; Symbiosis
(2015), Mycorrhizal ecology and evolution: the past, the present, and the future, in NEW PHYTOLOGIST
, 205(4), 1406-1423.
(2015), The role of community and population ecology in applying mycorrhizal fungi for improved food security, in ISME JOURNAL
, 9(5), 1053-1061.
(2014), Rapid genotypic change and plasticity in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is caused by a host shift and enhanced by segregation, in ISME JOURNAL
, 8(2), 284-294.
(2014), Soil fungal communities of grasslands are environmentally structured at a regional scale in the Alps, in MOLECULAR ECOLOGY
, 23(17), 4274-4290.
(2013), Density-based hierarchical clustering of pyro-sequences on a large scale-the case of fungal ITS1, in Bioinformatics
, 29(10), 1268-1274.
(2013), Genome of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus provides insight into the oldest plant symbiosis, in PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
, 110(50), 20117-20122.
(2013), Identity and combinations of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal isolates influence plant resistance and insect preference, in ECOLOGICAL ENTOMOLOGY
, 38(4), 330-338.
(2013), Predicting community and ecosystem outcomes of mycorrhizal responses to global change, in ECOLOGY LETTERS
, 16, 140-153.
(2013), Relatedness among arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi drives plant growth and intraspecific fungal coexistence, in ISME JOURNAL
, 7(11), 2137-2146.
(2012), Significant genetic and phenotypic changes arising from clonal growth of a single spore of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus over multiple generations, in NEW PHYTOLOGIST
, 196(3), 853-861.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are important symbionts of plants. My group has taken a population and evolutionary genetics approach to study the genetic diversity of these fungi and its consequence for the symbiosis. We have shown in our previous work that by manipulating the natural genetic variation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, using purely natural processes that occur in the fungi, we can considerably alter plant growth. Novel AMF lines, after crossing and segregation, can result in large growth increases in the plants or large decreases in growth. Because our manipulation of AMF involves crossing the fungi and then allowing genetic material to segregate in the offspring, it should be possible to “breed” AMF lines with greater effects on plant growth and efficiency in phosphate acquisition. However, at present we have no way of predicting which lines will be the most effective symbionts based on their genetic composition. In particular, we need to know which alleles in the fungus are associated with given quantitative plant traits. This is not a trivial exercise as the fungi do not display normal Mendelian inheritance and changes in plant growth are associated with quantitative changes in the presence of given alleles not only qualitative changes. This project will allow us to develop a very large set of genetic markers and at the same time contribute to filling unassembled gaps in the AMF genome. We will then generate crossed and segregated lines of the fungus and using the markers we will associate their genetic composition with quantitative plant growth traits. We will also use some very new DNA sequencing technology that allows the detection of sites in the DNA that have modifications such as methylation. This will allow us to develop a set of markers that potentially could result in epigenetic effects in the fungus that have consequences for the growth of plants in symbiosis. We will carry out an analysis to see if the presence of some of these “potentially epigenetic” markers in the fungus influence plant growth. If successful, this completely novel approach could be applied to many different organisms and questions in biology and medicine. AMF lines generated on this project and characterised genetically and in terms of their effects on plant growth will be used on an other Swiss NSF project to assess their beneficial effects on growth of cassava; a globally important food plant.