The mutualistic ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal genus Pisolithus colonizes the roots of trees in forests around the world and are inoculated on bioenergy crops such as Eucalyptus sp. and Pinus sp. due to their role in promoting plant health and productivity under different environmental constraints. The mutualistic relationship between tree roots and ECM fungi, and the nutrient/carbon exchange that occurs between the two partners, has been shaping forest ecosystems since their inception. ECM fungi are key players supporting the growth, health and stress tolerance of forest trees globally. The ECM Pisolithus genus as a whole has great potential to be a versatile ecological model due to the involvement of its diverse species in symbioses with economically important trees. By elucidating the genetic mechanisms used by the Pisolithus genus as a whole to dominate forest ecosystems and form symbiosis with such a wide variety of hosts, researchers hope to gain insights into how they can better promote these relationships with trees of economic, societal and environmental value.
Proposer’s Name: Jonathan Plett, University of Western Sydney (Australia)