Most plants live in symbiosis with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. These fungi colonize root cells, and simultaneously develop their mycelium into the soil. This enables them to provide their host plants with otherwise inaccessible mineral nutrients, in exchange for organic carbon delivered by the plant.
The symbiosis involves extensive communication between the plant and fungus, and our group has contributed to identify some of the molecular signals involved (Besserer et al. PLoS Biology 2006; Maillet et al. Nature 2011). Plant-derived symbiotic signals targeting the fungus include strigolactones, a group of compounds recently characterized as phytohormones (Gomez-Roldan et al. Nature 2008). In addition, we have recently discovered that the genomes of AM fungi possess homologs of plant cytokinin and ethylene receptors (Hérivaux et al. mBio 2017). This indicates that AM fungi could respond to a wider ranges of hormones than previously anticipated. Finally, several lines of evidence suggest that phytohormones could be transported along AM fungal hyphae. With the Mycormones project, we will investigate for the first time on a large scale whether AM fungi are themselves able to produce phytohormones, to transport them, and whether they use them as internal regulators.
The PhD student will assess the effects of different phytohormones on fungal symbiotic ability. In the case of strigolactones, the effects on the fungus have already been well characterized and the project will investigate in more detail the molecular perception mechanisms. Finally, the student will address hormone transport between the plant and fungus. To this end, he/she will contribute to design appropriate experimental setups, and will use imaging-based techniques to visualize hormone transfer between plant and fungal cells.
LRSV belongs to the Research Federation FR-AIB and to the TULIP Laboratory of Excellence. These local structures include other specialists of plant-microbe interactions and of plant hormone biology. We have access to state-of-the-art equipment and trained staff for molecular biology, biochemistry and imaging. The project also involves a local company producing AM-based biofertilizers. The company will supply the necessary biological material, as well as its expertise for the culture of diverse AM strains. The student will work in close collaboration with three other persons involved in the project.
Candidates should hold a Master's degree in plant science and have an interest in microbiology. Technical skills in protein biochemistry and molecular biology would be welcome. Candidates must be keen to work as part of a team, and possess excellent communication skills. A good level of English is required, but a knowledge of French is not essential.
Candidates are invited to contact Dr Soizic Rochange (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications should include a cover letter explaining their motivations, a Curriculum Vitae and the e-mail address of at least one referee. Applications will be considered until a suitable candidate is identified. Salary will be around 16,800 € net per year.