Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Stella Frank Rose Hills

Comparing Nutrient Transfer in Intra vs Extracellular Mutualisms

My research explores symbiotic relationships between trees and root-associated fungi, which provide up to 80% of plant nitrogen and phosphorus. These symbioses primarily fall into two categories: ectomycorrhizal fungi, which envelop root cells, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which penetrate root cell walls. Despite their prevalence, comparative studies of the two systems are lacking.
I will quantify nutrient sharing and assess gene expression in Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood) associated with each type of mutualistic partner. By elucidating nutrient transfer mechanisms, I seek to pinpoint genes facilitating this exchange and illuminate functional differences between symbiotic partners. I hypothesize that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi will exhibit more efficient nutrient transfer to P. trichocarpa due to their intracellular structures. Additionally, I expect to find a correlation between specific gene expression and rates of nutrient transfer.

Message To Sponsor

I am so grateful for your support. My project is a cumulation of all that I have learned through class work and my previous research at Berkeley and I feel so lucky that I am able to finish it this summer. Thank you!
Major: Molecular Environmental Biology and Conservation and Resource Studies
Mentor: Todd Dawson
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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