Project Title: Role of mycorrhizal fungi in inter-plant signalling and pest tolerance of hybrid aspen.
Project No: lzp- lzp-2022/1-0283
Period: 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2025
Project costs: 300 000, 00 EUR
Principle Investigator BMC: Dr.biol. Zigmunds Orlovskis
Forest is a complex ecosystem that provides economically important resources. Roots of trees form associations (mycorrhizae) with a number of soil fungi, effectively generating a large and long-lived subterranean network or superorganism that may function in exchange of inter-plant signals over large distances. However, the role of such signals in tree stress tolerance and defence against pests or pathogens is virtually unknown. Understanding how trees utilize the underground fungal-root network for spreading alarm signals might have significant implications for forest management practices in the future. Moreover, using genetically tractable tree model species would enable investigation of molecular mechanisms involved in generation and decoding of such inter-plant signals in response to pest or pathogen attack. To this end we utilize hybrid aspen (Populus tremula×tremuloides, Ptt), an economically important and genetically homogeneous crop propagated by in-vitro cultures. The project aims to isolate endemic Ptt mycorrhizal fungi (MF) as well as using an existing model MF Rhizophagus irregularis to connect in-vitro and soil grown aspen saplings and characterize intra- and inter-plant responses to wounding and microbial or herbivore associated molecular patterns. Collectively, this will yield novel insights into the functioning of soil fungal network and inform future studies to explore possibilities to finetune inter-plant signal generation or decoding in aspen using intercrops, selected MF fungi or biotechnological improvements.
Information published 2.01.2023.