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Dr Uta Paszkowski


inhospitable: the importance of listening in plant-fungus conversations    Plants can improve their nutrients and water provision by establishing symbiosis with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, a fascinating phenomenon that still has to be fully understood and taken advantage of within more modern and integrate agricultural practices (Smith and Read 2008). All the information available to date indicates that the very early stages of this interaction are critical for its successful outcome. During these stages plant-fungus communication takes place before physical contact and a suite of mobile signals have been implicated in the process (Genre et al. 2013, Oldroyd 2013).  The recent identification and initial characterization in our lab of the inhospitable (iho) rice mutant which is non responsive to the fungus at earliest steps of the interaction, provides a unique tool for performing a highly focused investigation to gain a deeper insight into the earliest signaling events. As the identity of the IHO gene is highly consistent with its potential direct role as receptor for a fungal derived signal, the generated information will help in the identification of the molecular mechanisms underpinning recognition.     The PhD project will take a closer look at early communication events. The transcriptional response of the plant to inoculation with the fungus has been determined by RNA-SEQ. You will focus on candidate genes and investigate their temporal and spatial dynamics and specificity as well as examine their functional relevance for the symbiosis. This will leave you with a very broad training in molecular cell biology plus genetics.


  1. Genre, A., M. Chabaud, C. Balzergue, V. Puech-Pages, M. Novero, T. Rey, J. Fournier, S. Rochange, G. Becard, P. Bonfante, and D. G. Barker. 2013. Short-chain chitin oligomers from arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi trigger nuclear Ca2+ spiking in Medicago truncatula roots and their production is enhanced by strigolactone. New Phytol 198:190-202.  
  2. Oldroyd, G. E. 2013. Speak, friend, and enter: signalling systems that promote beneficial symbiotic associations in plants. Nat Rev Microbiol 11:252-263.  
  3. Smith, S. E. and D. J. Read. 2008. Mycorrhizal Symbiosis 3rd Edition. Academic Press.

Dr Uta Paszkowski

Dr Uta Paszkowski
Department of Plant Sciences
Office Phone: 01223 748981

Second supervisor:

Ottoline Leyser