The distribution of resources in soil is heterogeneous or ‘patchy’ and plants have to cope with this heterogeneity in order to acquire the resources they need. One way in which they do respond, often spectacularly so, is by showing root proliferation in the nutrient-rich area. Yet, why they should respond in such a way to mobile ions such as nitrate had often appeared a paradox. Moreover, in the natural environment most nutrients occur in complex organic form. We have tried to unravel the mystery behind this proliferation response within the context of plant-microbial interactions. Furthermore, as the majority of land plants are also in symbiotic associations with beneficial mycorrhizal fungi, the most common and ancient type being that of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) association, how this interaction may impact upon nitrogen acquisition by both fungal and plant partners also was subject to investigation. While arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have long been established to aid their plant partner in the acquisition of poorly mobile phosphate, the main focus of our investigation was nitrogen and yielded surprising results suggesting these fungi may represent a new cog in the nitrogen cycle.
About the Speaker: Dr. Angela Hodge
Angela has long been interested in soils and their function. Her first degree was in Soil Science and Microbiology (BSc, joint Hons) followed by a PhD on ‘Chitinolytic activities of ectomycorrhizal symbionts’ both from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. She then carried out her first postdoc at the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute) in Aberdeen before moving to the Department of Biology, University of York where she is currently a Reader. She also enjoys teaching others about the wonderful world of soil both through outreach activities and undergraduate teaching and in 2016 received a Vice-Chancellor’s sustained excellence in teaching award.
Host: Pat Sorensen