Many plant species acquire a significant amount of their nutritional needs through symbiotic interactions with micro-organisms. The work in this laboratory focuses on two symbiotic interactions of legumes: the mycorrhizal association that aids in the uptake of nutrients from the soil and is particularly important for plant acquisition of phosphates and the rhizobial symbiosis that provides a source of nitrogen to the plant. In both cases the establishment of these interactions involves a molecular communication between the plant and the micro-organisms, with diffusible signals being released by both the mycorrhizal fungi and the rhizobial bacteria.
Our work is focused on understanding how legumes perceive these diffusible signals and transduce this information for the activation of developmental processes associated with accommodating these symbionts.
Major investment to persuade bacteria to help cereals self-fertilise (July 2012)
The John Innes Centre will lead a $9.8m (£6.4m) research project to investigate whether it is possible to initiate a symbiosis between cereal crops and bacteria. The symbiosis could help cereals access nitrogen from the air to improve yields. More...
Our research in the news:
"They're not just good for you, Peas & Beans can feed themselves..."
Nodules are normally only formed when the plant perceives the presence of the bacteria. The laboratory, in work published in the journal Nature, has been able to trigger the formation of nodules that house symbiotic bacteria in the absence of the bacteria themselves. This is an important step towards transferring nodulation, and possibly nitrogen fixation, to non-legume crops which could reduce the need for inorganic fertilizers.