About the Project
This project, part of the larger ERC-funded project “MYCOREV: the role of diverse symbiotic fungi in modern terrestrial ecosystems”, will explore fundamental knowledge gaps surrounding the structural and functional significance of plant-MFRE symbioses using a multi-scale approach, including lab experiments, field studies and microscopy to test the following key questions:
🡪 Do MFRE fungi engage in carbon-for-nutrient exchange with seed plant hosts?
🡪 Are the characteristic MFRE structures formed inside their host plant roots involved in bidirectional resource transfer?
🡪 How are MFRE-plant symbioses affected by a changing environment?
To address these questions, carbon and nutrient fluxes in a variety of seed plants will be studied, with plant species selected being key representatives of major global ecosystems. Sub-cellular plant-fungal interfaces will be examined in detail using state-of-the-art microscopical techniques.
The student will be supervised by Prof. Katie Field (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/aps/staff-and-students/acadstaff/katie_field) and Prof. Tim Daniell (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/aps/staff-and-students/acadstaff/daniell), experts in plant and fungal physiology and microbial biology, and will benefit from established project collaboration with Dr Silvia Pressel, expert in plant-fungal evolution, at the Natural History Museum, London. The student will acquire skills and become proficient in a variety of lab and field techniques, including isotope tracing, plant-fungal physiology, microscopy (SEM, TEM) and experimental design. They will have the opportunity to attend and present their research at UK and international meetings throughout the PhD project, e.g. the British Ecological Society annual meeting, and the International Conference on Mycorrhiza. These meetings will aid with dissemination of findings and develop the student’s presentation skills while providing them with excellent networking opportunities to facilitate their career development.
Minimum 2.1 (or equiv) BSc in plant science, soil science, mycology, biology, ecology, or related science degree.
Field KJ, Bidartondo MI, Rimington WR, Hoysted GA, Beerling DJ, Cameron DD, Duckett JG, Leake JR, Pressel S. (2019) Functional complementarity of ancient plant-fungal mutualisms: contrasting nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon exchanges between Mucoromycotina and Glomeromycotina fungal symbionts of liverworts. New Phytologist 223(2): 908-921.
Field KJ, Pressel S. (2018) Tansley Review - Unity in diversity: structural and functional insights into an ancient partnership between plants and fungi. New Phytologist 220(4): 996-1011
Hoysted GA, Kowal J, Jacob A, Rimington WR, Duckett JG, Pressel S, Orchard S, Ryan M, Field KJ, Bidartondo MI. (2018) A mycorrhizal revolution. Current Opinions in Plant Biology 44:1-6
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