EcolChange seminar – Francis M. Martin about mycorrhiza

Seminar of the Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Francis M. Martin is head of Cluster of Excellence ARBRE at INRA-Lorraine in Nancy, France; as a guest of doctoral school, F.M.Martin will also hold two discussion groups for PhD students and early career scientists:

Title of the talk: Unearthing the roots of mycorrhizal symbioses

Time: Thursday, 4. May 2017 at 15.15

Place: Tartu, Lai 40-218 (Vaga auditorium)


F. M. Martin (pic from here)


The ability of fungi to form mycorrhizas with plants is one of the most remarkable and enduring adaptations to life on land. The establishment of the mycorrhizal mutualistic lifestyle represented a critical stage in the history of land plants. Molecular phylogenetics and phylogenomics are revolutionising our understanding of plant-microbe interactions and the development of timetrees (calibrated phylogenies) linked with the growing understanding of fungal genomes provide remarkable insights into the origins of key interactions between plants and mycorrhizal fungi. By unrolling the thread of our current knowledge of the evolutionary history of these interactions, I will demonstrate how plants and fungi evolved in tight partnerships, developing and diversifying into the mycorrhizal associations, which are a fundamental part of modern ecosystems. I will discuss the evolutionary histories of mycorrhizal symbioses that have been revealed by our paleogenomic studies, including the functions that have been lost by genome erosion and the genes that have been acquired to facilitate mutualistic interaction with host plants. I will consider how such an intersection of genomics and evolutionary biology can inform our understanding of the biological principles intrinsic to AM and ECM symbioses.

By reconstructing how these mutualistic fungi have adapted to environmental changes during the past more than 400 Mya of evolution, we may be able to predict how they are likely to adapt to future anthropogenic climate changes. Finally, I will advocate that a better understanding of the molecular/cellular mechanisms driving fungal mutualistic symbioses should contribute to our overall comprehension of the multitude of associations taking place between endophytic microbes and their respective host plants.

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