Mycorrhizal symbiosis is an association of a network of fungal mycelia and host plant roots. This network allows the fungus partner to derive photosynthetically produced sugars from the host tree and in return transfer nitrogen and phosphorous, see Research section for further introduction.
I mainly focus on proteins/enzymes, especially proteases, secreted by ectomycorrhizal fungi and related transcriptomes expressed while the fungus is degrading organic nutrients in the soil. Proteases are needed to break down complex protein structures, which makes up most of the organic nitrogen (N) present in the soil. The host trees are unable to utilize proteins present in the soil, due to the complex nature of the soil and also the patchy distribution of nutrients in the soil and depend largely on the fungal partner to deliver. Artificial fertilizations will affect this natural balance and might disturb the flow of C into the soil, which in turn may cause imbalance in the environment.
My work includes protein purification and profiling, biochemical soil profiling, gene expression studies using microarrays and microbial community analysis. The model system used is the ectomycorrhizal fungi Paxillus involutus, which are grown synthetically in axenic medium and the fungal secretion and genes expressed are analyzed depending on type of nutrient provided. Similar analysis will be done with other known ectomycorrhizal fungi and phylogenetically related saprophytic fungi. p>