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5.4 Root-fungus interactions

Programme Area FUNCT
FUNCT Functional Plant Biology
Programme Area MICRO
MICRO Plant-Microbe Systems
Programme Area MICRO
BIOINF Genomics and bioinformatics in horticulture
Programme Area QUALITY
QUALITY Plant Quality and Food Security
Programme Area HORTSYS
HORTSYS Next-Generation Horticultural Systems
Description
Staff
Partners

Roots supply critical mineral elements and water to the plant as well as serving the purpose to stabilise and anchor the plant in the soil. An important prerequisite for these tasks are the development of a healthy root system undamaged by the influence of pathogens. The objective of this research area is to elucidate how endophytic fungi support the function of root Systems.

Cooperation Partners

NAME
Location
Country
Freie Universität Berlin
Berlin
Germany
Humboldt Universität Berlin
Berlin
Germany
Institute of Bioanalytical Sciences (IBAS)
Bernburg
Germany
Institut für Phytopathologie und Angewandte Zoologie (IPAZ) - Giessen University
Gießen
Germany
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP)
Golm
Germany
Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS) de Lyon
Lyon
France
University of Burgundy
Dijon
France
INOQ GmbH
Schnega
Germany
Eötvös Lórand University
Budapest
Hungary

The mineral nutrient supply of plants is the basis of plant growth. Many plants accomplish this supply in partnership with fungal endophytes which receive in return carbohydrates. The first project will analyse the regulation of fungal mineral uptake from substrates and hyphal transport of these resources towards the plant. For this purpose microbiological, physiological, and molecular biological methods will be applied to the model fungi Rhizophagus irregularis (forming arbuscular mycorrhiza) and Piriformospora indica (not forming classical mycorrhiza). On the other hand, gas exchange measurements combined with analyses of metabolites will contribute to our understanding of carbon fluxes from photosynthesis over distribution inside the plant up to the fungal metabolism.

Soil-bourne pathogens are difficult to confine and little is known about their interaction with plants. It could, however, be shown that roots colonised by mycorrhizal fungi are more resistant against such pathogens. In frame of the second project of this research area, experimental systems for analysing trifold interactions between plants, pathogens, and mutualistic root endophytes will be further optimised. Plant genes that are specifically expressed when roots are protected by root endophytes will be identified. These candidate genes will then be functionally characterised.

Root endophytic fungi are a connecting point between plants and their environment. Results of the focus program will support targeted application of such fungi in plant cultivation. Challenged by a society in flux and by changing environmental conditions, this application could be an important component of future management systems, where healthy vegetables and pleasant ornamentals should be produced in an economical and ecologically sustainable manner.

Further projects supported by third-party funds or carried out by scholarship-holders deal with the impact of fungal endophytes on plant tolerance for abiotic stress. These projects are mainly focused on problems coming from heavy metal contaminations or high salt concentration in soils.