Forests depend on tree-microbial associations above and below ground. Understanding molecular mechanisms of associations between trees and fungi in forests requires a novel, community-driven, multi-disciplinary approach based on genomics and ecological data and tools. This project focuses on a set of mycorrhizal fungal species able to form several types of plant-fungus symbioses and selected for their ability to establish the symbiosis in greenhouses or in vitro systems. Through comparisons of the transcriptomes (mRNA populations) of free-living fungi and of plant roots colonized by fungal strains from this project, the researchers plan to identify the genetic mechanisms underpinning the establishment of mycorrhizal symbioses and decipher the evolution of ecologically- and economically-important symbioses in terrestrial ecosystems. They also hope to match the expressed RNA sequences against available fungal databases, with a focus on datasets associated with plant-fungus signaling, primary metabolism, and degradative metabolism.
PI: Francis Martin, INRA