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Flavia Pilar Forte: Beneficial plant-microbe interactions: the future for sustainable agriculture

PhD defence, Wednesday 2 December 2020. Flavia Pilar Forte.

During her studies, Flavia Pilar Forte investigated the mutualistic interaction between a forage grass and a fungal endophyte over time. The endophyte (Epichloë) protects the plant (Lolium perenne) from biotic and abiotic stresses supporting its persistence and fitness. Investigating  the plant’s transcriptome and epigenome, Flavia Pilar Forte identified genes and differential DNA methylation patterns contributing to the adaptation between partners. Moreover, Flavia Pilar Forte detected alterations of the fungus’s colonisation pattern in the intercellular plant spaces.

The research findings give insights into the molecular mechanisms behind generating novel grass-endophyte artificial associations, which will contribute to mitigate the effects of climate change and global warming in a sustainable way.

The PhD study was conducted at the Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, Faculty of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University.

This summary was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Wednesday 2 December 2020 at 13.00.

Place: The defence will be held online. To receive a link to the event, please send an email to Professor MSO Torben Asp at torben.asp@qgg.au.dk.

Title of dissertation: Inter-kingdom signaling regulating the mutualistic adaptation between a fungal endophyte of the genus Epichloë and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) in novel association

Contact information: Flavia Pilar Forte, e-mail: flavia.forte@qgg.au.dk

Members of the assessment committee:

Professor David B. Collinge, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Microbial Ecology and Biotechnology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Professor Philipp Franken, Erfurt Research Centre for Horticultural Crops, Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Horticulture and Forestry, University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany

Professor Doug Speed (Chair), Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, Aarhus University, Denmark

Main supervisor: Professor MSO Torben Asp, Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, Aarhus University, Denmark


Dr. Jan Schmid, School of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand

Dr. Niels Roulund, DLF Seeds A/S, Denmark

Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English.

The defence is public.

Due to the coronavirus situation, the PhD thesis will not be available for reading at the offices of the PhD administration. Instead, interested parties may send an e-mail to gradschool.tech@au.dk to receive a digital copy of the PhD thesis. Please note, it may in certain cases be necessary to make an individual arrangement to read the PhD thesis.