Carmina Falcato Cabral

PhD Student

Carmina Falcato Cabral


PhD project: Inter-plant communication via underground arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal networks


Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) transport both nutrients and water between plants through the external mycelia connecting plants underground. It has recently been shown, that plants can use this underground communication system for signaling processes, for example to warn about imminent pathogen or pest attacks. Nevertheless, both the causes and mechanisms of these transfer processes are scarcely investigated and need further research efforts. Fungal-hyphae mediated allelopathy in response to biotic stress (aphid attacks) via transport of signaling compounds through the AM underground networks has been demonstrated. In contrast, the induction of a rapid response against abiotic stress via signaling compounds traveling through the AM underground network has not been investigated. Applying a multidisciplinary approach, the present study aims to evaluate the signaling processes between ‘donor’ and ‘receiver’ plants, induced by challenging ‘donor’ plants with different stress types (abiotic/biotic) and identify the signaling compounds, as well as if these are different based on the different stress events/types and/or stress interactions. The identification of these compounds can open the doors to boosting the crops defense responses, and even induce that defense response prior to stress, assuring maintenance of the yield levels when faced with arduous years.

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