Serena Qiao

Research Interests

My pronouns are she/they.

I have a keen interest in the symbiotic relationships between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, a symbiosis which supplies plants with critical phosphates and nitrates and which supports around 80% of land plants, including many key crops. Specifically, I am interested in how these partners communicate with and regulate the other. At present, I am examining the potential role of cross-kingdom RNAi- a mechanism which allows regulation of gene expression in a non-self organism- in this symbiosis. As of yet, this phenomenon has only been reliably documented in plant-pathogen interactions; demonstrating its presence in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis would therefore be a significant advance in this field. Furthermore, an analysis of this communication mechanism could open up avenues for manipulation and enhancement of the symbiosis, which would help to lower dependence on scarce and inefficient inorganic phosphate fertilisers.

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