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Impact of polyaromatic hydrocarbons on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and biochemical and molecular mechanisms involved in plant protection and pollutant dissipation


Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) originating mainly from anthropogenic activities, are frequently associated to polluted soils. These persistent organic pollutants are harmful for human health (carcinogenic and/or mutagenic) and can disrupt the ecosystem functioning. To clean-up the PAHs-polluted soils, phytoremediation assisted by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) represent an innovative approach, cost-effective and environmental friendly. However, prior to any remedial strategy, it is necessary to understand the impacts of PAHs on AMF and conversely the potential of these obligate root symbionts in protecting the plants from PAHs.
The present project aims to determine the impact of PAHs on AMF having different life history strategies, i.e. adapted to grow either under stable (K-strategists) or disturbed (r-strategists) environments. We postulate that PAHs may differently affect AMF r/K-strategists which in turn may (1) protect the plant from PAHs toxicity in a different way and (2) differently participate in the dissipation of PAHs.
To investigate this hypothesis three successive questions are addressed: (1) do PAHs differently impact the morpho-anatomy and physiology of AMF r/K strategists? (2) do AMF r/K strategists differently affect the resistance of plants to PAHs and crude oil? (3) do r/K strategists differently affect oil dissipation?
To answer these questions, innovative technological and methodological approaches will be followed via an extensive training program conducted at UCL and supported via short stays in two laboratories in Italy and France to include a mobility schema. The training will include, among others, microarray (to investigate genes expression profiling as affected by PAHs in presence/absence of AMF) and confocal microscopy (to determine the cellular and subcellular localization of spitzenkörper: a group of vesicles involved in colony architecture). Both techniques are novel to the fellow and will increase her scientific expertise.

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Place De L Universite 1
1348 Louvain La Neuve
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 177 000
Administrative Contact
Stéphane Declerck (Prof.)