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Title: Nutrient cycling for biomass: Interactive proteomic/transcriptomic networks for global carbon management processes within poplar-mycorrhizal interactions

This project addresses the need to develop system-scale models at the symbiotic interface between ectomycorrhizal fungi (Laccaria bicolor) and tree species (Populus tremuloides) in response to environmental nutrient availability / biochemistry. Using our now well-established laboratory Laccaria x poplar system, we address the hypothesis that essential regulatory and metabolic mechanisms can be inferred from genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic-level changes that occur in response to environmental nutrient availability. The project addresses this hypothesis by applying state-of-the-art protein-level analytic approaches to fill the gap in our understanding of how mycorrhizal regulatory and metabolic processes at the transcript-level translate to nutrient uptake, carbon management and ultimate net primary productivity of plants. In most cases, these techniques were not previously optimized for poplar trees or Laccaria. Thus, one of the major contributions of this project has been to provide avenues for new research in these species by overcoming the pitfalls that had previously prevented the use of techniques such as ChIP-Seq and SWATH-proteomics. Since it is the proteins that sense and interact with the environment, participate in signal cascades, activate and regulate gene expression, perform the activities of metabolism and ultimately sequester carbon and generate biomass, an understanding of protein activities during symbiosis-linked nutrientmore » uptake is critical to any systems-level approach that links metabolic processes to the environment. This project uses a team of experts at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to address the above hypothesis using a multiple "omics" approach that combines gene and protein expression as well as protein modifications, and biochemical analyses (performed at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)) in poplar trees under mycorrhizal and free living conditions. Together, the assembled team of experts completed all of the planned milestones set forth in this project. In addition to the planned approaches, several lines of exciting new research have also evolved during the course of this project that involved FTIR Imaging using the National Synchrotron Light Source at BNL. A summary of the approaches used in this project and key highlights are as follows: Having the right combination of microbes associated with plants is largely responsible for the plant’s ability to mine nutrients from the soil and to develop a strong “immune system”. Our current chemically focused and intensive culture tends to forget that plants obtain nutrients in two ways: (1) via water soluble chemical nutrients and (2) via the activity of acquired microbial symbionts. In healthy natural ecosystems, chemical nutrients are always in low abundance because the organisms within that system have already locked such nutrients away within the biological system itself. Thus, in nature it is the biological sources of nutrients and the microbes that have the capacity to mine those nutrients for their plant hosts that actually control the terrestrial nutrient cycles on this planet. Thus, a new push in the future may very well be to use our skills at elucidating complex patterns to strategically guide soil microbe communities to do what we want, essentially allowing nature to do the work of figuring out what is most efficient and effective for human needs. However, the findings of this project and other work in our lab lead to the hypothesis that the specific soil community composition is less important than the emergent properties of those communities. So, additional research into what soil communities are effective and how they are established will be key in developing human understanding of how to manipulate biological systems to meet human needs without causing undue damage to our environment.« less
  1. Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (TMPL Proteomics Facility); Argonne National Laboratory; Brookhaven National Laboratory
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; SWATH Proteomics; ChIP-Seq; Biochemical Analysis; Populus tremuloides; Laccaria bicolor