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Unravelling the molecular basis of hydroxyapatite weathering driven by the ectomycorrhizal fungus Paxillus involutus

Paparokidou, Christina (2018) Unravelling the molecular basis of hydroxyapatite weathering driven by the ectomycorrhizal fungus Paxillus involutus. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) form symbiotic partnerships with tree roots and are able to chemically weather inorganic phosphorus (Pi)-rich minerals, supplying Pi to their host in return for photosynthates. The fungal-driven nutrient cycling from mineral weathering plays a pivotal role in ecosystems and crops productivity, as well as geochemical cycles. The aim of the study presented in this thesis is to unravel the molecular mechanisms by which the EM fungus Paxillus involutus weathers the Pi-rich mineral hydroxyapatite (HAP), either non-symbiotically or in symbiosis with its host tree Pinus sylvestris. Development of an artificial system to study P. involutus responses to varying concentration of Pi led to the identification of five high-affinity Pi transporter genes, of which the expression varies in an inversely proportional manner to Pi availability. Using the same system, whole-transcriptomic data from fungal hyphae unravelled the molecular basis of the EMF ability in Pi uptake at the global gene scale, revealing that EM symbiosis can directly affect Pi-responsive fungal genes such as the Pi transporter PiPT4. A second artificial system was used to study HAP solubilisation driven by P. involutus, which was confirmed by EDX spectroscopy data showing depletion of Pi from the HAP crystals, along with secondary minerals formation. Whole-transcriptomic analysis revealed that EM symbiosis induces a different set of HAP weathering genes in P. involutus hyphae, compared to the fungus growing non-symbiotically, including the specific expression of organic acid metabolic genes, which resulted in enhanced HAP solubilisation. Metabolomic analysis led to the identification of multiple secreted metabolites enriched in the presence of HAP in P. involutus systems grown non-symbiotically or in symbiosis with P. sylvestris seedlings. The analysis also led to the identification of putative novel fungal weathering agents. Results from transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses were ultimately combined in a model of HAP weathering by P. involutus.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Christina Paparokidou
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2018 16:02
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2018 16:02
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21204

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