Role of fungal WSC lectin-like proteins in the interaction of endophytic fungi with plant roots.
The interaction of microbes with plants involves sophisticated molecular mechanisms, that for example are employed by the microbe to suppress the plant innate immune system. We are studying those mechanisms in root symbiotic fungi of the fungal order Sebacinales. The endophytic model fungus Piriformospora indica is able to colonize roots of the agricultural important monocot barley and the dicot model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, with beneficial effects for the plants. In my thesis I am interested in lectin-like proteins, which are able to bind to carbohydrates like chitin and are massively expanded in the genome of P. indica compared to other fungi. Especially those lectins with WSC-domains are of special interest because their role in plant-microbe interactions remains unclear. Understanding the molecular tools used by P. indica will shed light on endophytic colonization strategies and their future use in agriculture.