University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Crop Science Seminar: Improving the mycorrhizal symbiosis in spring barley – lab and field studies

Crop Science Seminar: Improving the mycorrhizal symbiosis in spring barley – lab and field studies

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  • UserDr Tom Thirkell, Head of Pest & Pathogen Research, CSC
  • ClockWednesday 23 March 2022, 10:30-11:30
  • HouseOnline.

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are ubiquitous symbionts of cereal crops worldwide and may contribute substantially to the P and N uptake of their host plant. In exchange for mineral nutrients and water, the fungi receive carbon as lipids and carbohydrates. The symbiosis is essential for the fungus, which cannot complete its lifecycle without the host plant, while the impact on the plant varies between mutualism and parasitism. Engineering the symbiosis to be more beneficial for the plant should allow more efficient nutrient capture and reduced fertiliser demand. Key genes which control symbiotic signalling and fungal colonisation have been characterised in controlled conditions but not in the field. Knockouts of certain genes can abolish mycorrhizal colonisation in barley, while over-expression of other genes causes increased colonisation, especially at high soil P concentrations which normally suppress mycorrhizas. In this presentation, I will talk through plans for our trial which has very recently been approved by DEFRA . Using gene-edited and genetically modified barley lines, I will test the function of these genes in field trials. In addition to yield and nutrition data, root and soil samples will be taken to quantify and characterise fungal colonisation in these contrasting barley lines. Disease scoring will identify any effects of these genes on pathogen susceptibility.

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This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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