Sara Hortal - 9 May 2018

Sara Hortal, Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya.

"Fungal competition and partner choice in the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis"


Multiple ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi with different functional attributes compete to colonise the plant root system. However, and despite their global importance, factors driving EM competition are not well understood. In this talk I will present a series of experiments assessing EM competitive interactions, how climate change factors might affect them and the extent to which plants control EM colonization. We found that, when given a choice, plants are able to limit colonization by the least cooperative symbiont; not by a reduction in allocated carbon but by up-regulation of defence-related genes against those fungi providing fewer nutrients.


My main research interests are soil microbial ecology and plant-soil interactions. I am currently Project manager at the Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya after being Research fellow at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (Australia) for five years. Before moving to Australia, I did two postdocs, one at the Functional Ecology lab of the Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas  (CSIC) and another one at the Ecogenomics of Interactions lab of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France). I obtained my PhD in 2008 from the Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.