Thomas Christian de Bang
Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen
"Small Signalling Peptides to Stimulate Root Growth - a Novel Approach to Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency" (SSPinROOTS)
In the SSPinROOTS project, the aim is to identify and study SSPs in the legume model species Medicago truncatula. More specifically, SSPs taking part in the signalling events occuring when availability of the macronutrients nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) is low.
Small Signalling Peptides (SSPs) are a relatively newly discovered/appreciated class of genes that play prominent roles in plant signalling. Today, several hundreds of these genes are known in plants and they have been shown to be important for almost any aspect of plant growth and development, as well as adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Root development is directly affected by the N and P availability in the soil in order to either forage the soil for more nutrients, or to "sit still" and wait for better times. In the SSPinROOTS project the main hypothesis is that SSPs are involved in the signalling pathways controlling these adaptations.
Atmospheric nitrogen fixation by legumes is done in symbiosis with a group of soil bacteria commonly known as rhizobia. The plant hosts the bacteria in special organs called root nodules. Nodule development and subsequent nitrogen fixation is under strickt control, as these processes are costly to run. The role of SSPs in nodule development and activity is under investigation in the SSPinROOTS project.