Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) are emerging as a model system for understanding microbial community dynamics and the linkages between microbial communities and ecosystem function. EMF provide their plant hosts with nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and water, in exchange for fixed carbon. Trade between the two partners constitutes a significant ecosystem flux in resources between plant and fungus. Suillus species are keystone members of the EMF community that exhibit strong host-specific associations with different Pinus spp. The project focuses on an integrated omic study of symbiotic interactions between pines (Pinus spp.) and their ectomycorrhizal fungi in the genus Suillus. One aim of the project is to develop the Pine-Suillus symbiosis as a model for understanding EMF function across diverse pine-dominated forests of North America, including how symbiotic fungi utilize and sequester plant-derived carbon. As the dominant community of symbiotic microbes in forest soils, EMF transfer nutrients to tree roots and receive plant carbon in exchange.
Proposer’s Name: Rytas Vilgalys