Bacteria and fungi are known to interact with plants and contribute to ecosystem health and productivity, defining the plant microbiome. Recent studies indicate that some fungal-bacterial symbioses may date back over 400 million years and may be important in driving the formation of soil and rhizosphere communities. This project focuses on a diversity of fungi (and their endosymbiotic bacteria) that interact with living and dead plants and will increase understanding of how the microbial community may benefit or impede future bioenergy strategies. Many of the fungal species for this project were obtained from the rhizosphere of Populus tree species. These fungi are industrially important because of capabilities such as rapid growth rates and lipid production, and are relevant to the production of biodiesel. Researchers hope that by sequencing the genomes of fungi associated with plants and their endosymbiotic bacterial partners, including those associated with Populus, they will be able to learn more about plant microbiomes. The information will also be useful for comparative genomic and evolutionary perspectives on fungal-bacterial symbioses and their prospective role in tripartite plant-fungal-bacterial interactions.
Proposer’s Name: Gregory Bonito