The inter-regulation of extracellular matrix charge and nutrient availability in the root

Dr. Elke Barbez (CIBSS-AI), Institute of Biology II - Cell Biology (Faculty of Biology), University of Freiburg

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) (also called cell wall) in plants is negatively charged largely due to the high abundance of pectin, an acidic structural hetero-polysaccharide. We hypothesise that the chemical charges in the plant ECM affects the acquisition of positively charged nutrients from a soil solution. In this project, the molecular mechanisms behind ECM charge in roots will be dissected and its importance for adaptive plant development will be revealed. We used a high-resolution soil data set in combination with natural Arabidopsis accessions to perform genome wide association studies (GWAS). Therewith, we have identified several candidate genes which are potentially involved in the signaling transduction implementing nutrient sensing into alterations in ECM charge. We will characterize the role of the identified candidate genes in ECM charge regulation. Gaining insight into how plants mine their nutrients and how plants adjust themselves to limited nutrient availability will help to optimize and eventually reduce the usage of expensive and often harmful fertilizers in agriculture.