Mycorrhiza and Root Biology

Mycorrhiza and Root Biology

To improve nutrient uptake, most land plants form symbioses with root-colonizing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.  The main focus of the research in the group "Mycorrhiza and Root Biology" led by Prof. Dr. Caroline Gutjahr is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation of an arbuscular mycorrhiza.

In the field, plants face a limited availability of vital mineral nutrients. To increase nutrient uptake most land plants form symbioses with root colonizing arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi that efficiently take up mineral nutrients from the soil and transport them into the root. In return, they receive up to 20 % of the plants photosynthetically fixed carbon.

Root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi involves distinct and genetically separable developmental steps that are largely under plant control. These steps include dramatic plant cell rearrangements that precede differentiation of fungal hyphae into particular shapes inside these plant cells. We are interested in the plant molecular mechanisms required for shaping an arbuscular mycorrhiza. Our major research line investigates molecular interconnections between plant and symbiosis development, including the role of plant hormone signaling pathways. We use state of the art genetic, molecular, cell biological and biochemical methods and address the following overarching questions:

  • Which molecular mechanisms underly accommodation of arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi inside plant roots?
  • How does the plant adjust arbuscular mycorrhiza development with its developmental and physiological state under dynamically changing environmental conditions?
  • Which mechanisms regulate nutrient exchange between the symbionts? 
  • Are there overlaps and similarities between accommodation of symbiotic and of pathogenic filamentous microbes?
  • Which is the genetic basis for positive performance responses to arbuscular mycorrhiza?

More details will follow soon. 

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