CORDIS - EU research results

Mechanisms of symbiotic incompatibility in the arbuscular mycorrhizal association

Project description

Mechanisms preventing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi symbiosis with plants

A third of vascular plants, including the model organism Arabidopsis, have lost or suppressed their ability to develop symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, one of the essential mutualisms on Earth. However, molecular mechanisms controlling this symbiotic incompatibility are not completely understood. Understanding these mechanisms is central to improving symbioses for practical applications. The EU-funded SYMBIO-INC project will investigate the fundamental molecular limitations preventing AM fungi from developing symbiosis with land plants. The project will apply an interdisciplinary strategy focusing on fungal traits during interactions with Arabidopsis plants. SYMBIO-INC intends to test the hypothesis that fungal nutrition is critical during incompatible interactions. It will deliver an integrated survey of fungal molecular reactions under different levels of symbiotic incompatibility.


Understanding the mechanisms that control symbiotic incompatibility is fundamental to evaluate biological factors that delimit symbiosis on Earth and could help us to improve symbioses for practical applications. In terrestrial ecosystems, about 29% of vascular plants, including the plant model Arabidopsis, apparently lost or suppress their ability to host symbiosis with the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, one of the most ancient and functionally important symbiosis on Earth. Yet, the molecular mechanisms that control this symbiotic incompatibility are largely obscure, which is limiting our ability to consistently predict the conditions that constrain AM symbiosis and to engineer new symbiotic partnerships. SYMBIO-INC addresses the challenging question of what are the key molecular constraints that prevent AM fungi from developing functional associations with land plants. Unlike traditional approaches, SYMBIO-INC will employ an interdisciplinary strategy focused on direct evidence with unprecedented emphasis on fungal traits during interactions with Arabidopsis plants differing in hosting phenotypes. Genotypic and molecular aspects will be evaluated for their potential to control Arabidopsis susceptibility to fungal colonization. The hypothesis that fungal nutrition is critical during incompatible interactions will be tested here for the first time. Finally, powerful transcriptomic tools will be employed to deliver a holistic overview of fungal molecular responses under different degrees of compromised symbiotic development. This horizon-broadening approach, combined with the maturity of our knowledge in the topic, supported by a robust set of new preliminary data, makes the proposed research a timely opportunity for paradigm shifting and high impact. Finally, SYMBIO-INC will allow the researcher to reinforce and further expand skills and expertise, create new collaborations, and forge a successful career aiming at a future tenure-track position.


Net EU contribution
€ 166 320,00
1348 Louvain La Neuve

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Région wallonne Prov. Brabant Wallon Arr. Nivelles
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 166 320,00