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Prof. Dr. Caroline Gutjahr receives Consolidator Grant from ERC for "SymbioticExchange"

€2 million project funding for research into an underground relationship between plants and fungi


Prof. Dr. Caroline Gutjahr, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam and Principal Investigator of TRR356 PlantMicrobe project A02, has been awarded one of the highly prestigious Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council (ERC). In her project "SymbioticExchange", she will investigate how the close coexistence of plants and friendly fungi in the soil works and how the exchange of nutrients between the symbiotic partners is regulated. Her findings could contribute to a new form of agriculture that considers fungi and plants in tandem.

"If we understand how plants determine which and what quantities of substances they exchange with the fungi, then we may be able to breed crops that cooperate more efficiently with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. If we then introduce the fungi to the fields together with the plants, plants could potentially access the nutrients in the soil much better. This could help to save on fertilizers and protect the environment and climate," says Caroline Gutjahr.

With its Consolidator Grants, the European Research Council - ERC supports research projects by top researchers at a mid-career stage who want to boldly advance into visionary new fields of research and who have the potential to open up new scientific fields.

ERC Grant

A root of the grass Brachypodium distachyon under the microscope. The fungal hyphae (colored blue) grow into the root cells and form branched structures, the arbuscules, which can almost completely fill the cells. © Kartikye Varshney (Gutjahr laboratory)

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