Cornell University

“Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi:  living off the fat of the root” - Harrison

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 12:20pm

Plant Science Building, 404

Maria Harrison
Adjunct Professor, Section of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology
School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University

Research Overview

Most vascular flowering plants are able to form symbiotic associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. These associations, named ‘arbuscular mycorrhizas’, develop in the roots, where the fungus colonizes the cortex to access carbon supplied by the plant. The fungal contribution to the symbiosis includes the transfer of mineral nutrients, particularly phosphorus, from the soil to the plant. In many soils, phosphate exists at levels that are limiting for plant growth. Consequently, additional phosphate supplied via AM fungi can have a significant impact on plant development, and this symbiosis influences the structure of plant communities in ecosystems worldwide.

The long-term goals of our research are to understand the mechanisms underlying development of the AM symbiosis and phosphate transfer between the symbionts. A model legume, Medicago truncatula, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, Glomus versiforme, Glomus intraradices and Gigaspora gigantea are used for these analyses. Currently, a combination of molecular, cell biology, genetic and genomics approaches are being used to obtain insights into development of the symbiosis, communication between the plant and fungal symbionts, and symbiotic phosphate transport.


Event Type



Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology


nysaes, pppmb, sips, CALScomm




Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Tara Reed

Contact Phone



Maria Harrison

Speaker Affiliation

Cornell University

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