While plant-microbe symbioses play critical roles in enhancing nutrient acquisition and ecosystem productivity, little information is available on the complex metabolic and signaling pathways that mediate such responses. In this project, researchers specifically plan to study the influences of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi and plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) on the phosphorus starvation response in aspen (Populus tremuloides). Phosphorus limitation is a major factor affecting carbon capture by plants and limiting biofuels feedstock productivity on nonagricultural soils. Plant-microbe symbioses play critical roles in enhancing the acquisition of phosphorus from soils for plant hosts, yet much of the research on plant carbon and nutrient capture and associated modeling efforts relies on studies lacking symbionts. Mycorrhizal fungi form mutually beneficial associations with over 90 percent of plant families and bacteria are ubiquitous in plant rhizospheres. Both groups of microbes often affect host plant metabolism to increase nutrient acquisition and environmental stress resistance. These benefits have profound effects on ecosystem productivity, carbon sequestration by forests, and biofuels feedstock production.
Proposer’s Name: Jonathan Cumming