Department of Bacteriology
Symbiotic plant-microbe associations (nodulation and mycorrhization)
348 Moore Hall - Plant Sciences
1575 Linden Dr
Madison, WI 53706
Plant Biology; Developmental Biology & Regenerative Medicine
I am a plant geneticist and a microbiologist by training. My primary research interest is understanding the establishment of symbiotic associations between plants and microbes, and the application of this knowledge to maximize the benefits of such associations in agriculture. Our first goal is to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms allowing symbiotic associations between plants and microbes. We particularly focus on two types of associations: nitrogen-fixing associations with bacteria and mycorrhizal associations with fungi. For this, we are working with various plant genetic models such as Medicago truncatula (legume), Populus trichocarpa (poplar), Brachypodium distachyon (C3 cereal) and Setaria viridis (C4 cereal). We are particularly interested in signals produced by symbiotic microbes and in the plant signaling pathways allowing host plants to perceive and transduce these microbial signals. We are also transferring information from model systems to crops such as soybean, rice and maize. Our second goal is to understand the evolution of these mechanisms in order to identify the critical innovations that allowed the evolution of efficient associations between plants and microbes. Our third goal is to use this knowledge on genetic mechanisms and their evolution to engineer more efficient associations between cereals and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in order to improve the sustainability of our agriculture for food, feed and biofuel production.