My pronouns are she/her
Phosphate plays a vital role in the growth and survival of land plants; it is an important source of nutrients such as phosphorus that allows a plant to sustain its own metabolic functions and is integral to the molecular architecture of a plant. Despite its relative abundance in soil, there is a risk of the areas surrounding these roots becoming leached of phosphate, creating a nutrient depletion zone that acts as limiting factor for growth and causes the plant to become stunted and lose biomass. Many plants evolved to overcome this challenge of nutrient depletion by establishing beneficial symbioses with groups of fungi from the subphylum Glomeromycotina known as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). The growth and extension of the fungi’s extraradical hyphae along a plant’s roots beyond the root depletion zone allows it to intake a greater proportion of phosphate than it would’ve with its roots alone. These interactions are ancient and near-ubiquitous, evolving ~500 million years ago and taking place in ~80% of terrestrial plants. My research delves into the mechanistic properties underlying such interactions by looking at the role of flotillins, a group of proteins that play a role in lipid microdomain organisation, early endosome formation, and clathrin-independent endocytosis, to better elucidate their roles as putative biomarkers of extracellular vesicles that are believed to act as a medium of this exchange between the two symbionts in order to fully understand the role and extent of cross-Kingdom communication allowing this mutualism to take place.