Sweet Talks: Symbiotic Signaling Between Land Plants and their Microbial Symbionts
University of Wisconsin
Dr. Jean-Michel Ané is a plant geneticist and a microbiologist by training. His primary research interest is understanding the establishment of symbiotic associations between plants and microbes, and the application of this knowledge to maximize the benefits of such associations in agriculture. His first goal is to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms allowing symbiotic associations between plants and microbes. He particularly focuses on two types of associations that have a significant impact on terrestrial ecosystems and agriculture: the rhizobia-legume association and mycorrhizal associations. For this, he works with various plant genetic models such as Medicago truncatula (legume), Populus trichocarpa (poplar), rice (C3 cereal) and Setaria viridis (C4 cereal). He is particularly interested in signals (lipo-chito-oligosaccharides, LCOs) produced by symbiotic microbes and in the plant signaling pathways allowing host plants to perceive and transduce these microbial signals. He also transfers information from model systems to other crops such as soybean and maize. His second goal is to understand the evolution of these molecular mechanisms in order to identify the critical innovations that allowed the development of efficient associations between plants and microbes. His third goal is to use this knowledge on molecular and evolutionary mechanisms to engineer more efficient associations between cereals and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in order to improve the sustainability of our agriculture for food, fiber and biofuel production.