|Video of the Researcher|
Dr. Nicolas Corradi
Producing fungal strains to help plants and crops grow better and to produce a healthier and more diverse ecosystem
|Type of researcher|
|Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials||
The research performed in this lab involves the evolutionary genomics of ecologically relevant and medically important fungi. In particular, the research focuses on two fungal organisms that are evolutionary unrelated but equally intriguing: the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) and the Microsporidia. AMF represent an ecologically relevant group of ancient asexuals that form widespread symbioses with the roots of most land plants. These organisms have unusual cellular features, as each mycelium is composed of thousands of nuclei that coexist within one cytoplasm and by an elevated intracellular molecular diversity . The research aims to understand the origin and evolution of this peculiar polymorphism, and to acquire long-awaited insights into the content and structure of AMF genomes by comparing large genome and transcriptome sequence data. In parallel, a large chunk of our research focuses on the acquisition and comparative analysis of genomic data from a group of obligate intracellular parasites called Microsporidia. Most species of this group are characterized by miniaturized genomes, which we use as models to study the evolution of eukaryotic parasite genomes in a broad sense.
|Describe your research||
My laboratory uses tools of molecular biology and bioinformatics to better understand the biology of microorganisms that are important from a medical perspective and from an ecological perspective. One of the organisms that we study is called Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi. These fungi facilitate the capture of soil nutrients by plants by extending small root-like structure called hyphae.
These hyphae penetrate the roots of plants resulting in a complex nutrient exchange network between the plants and the fungus. Generally in the presence of these fungi, plants grow much better, the ecosystem is also much more diverse and plants are better protected against pathogens.
There are two main ways you can use to better understand this fungi. One, you can look under a microscope for hours hoping to discover something exciting. This approach, however, is very time-consuming and often results in frustration as these tiny organisms do not always like to cooperate with us.
Another perhaps more efficient way to look to their biology and better understand the way of living is to look at their DNA. Specifically, by sequencing the DNA we can identify the genes and proteins that they use to survive, adapt and propagate. To do so we cultivate this organism in the lab, extract their DNA and RNA and analyze their content using tools of molecular biology and bioinformatics.
Hi, my name is Gokalp and I’m a PhD student from Turkey. My research aims to understand the DNA content of this organism using a combination of molecular and bioinformatics techniques.
My name is Stephanie and I study the interactions between the strains of varieties of these fungi using a combination of microscopy and molecular biology techniques in order better understand the biology of these microbial organisms.
Hello, my name is Matthew and I study the RNA of this fungus to understand which genes are being expressed during different time points of their lifecycle. Overall our research comes together to better understand how these microbes create genetic diversity. This is important in order to understand the role this fungus plays in helping plants and crops grow better and to produce a healthier and more diverse ecosystem.
Hi, I’m Madhu, post-doc from India. I have expertise in bioinformatics. Using the tools of bioinformatics, I can identify the genetic components of the beneficial fungi that helps the plants to grow better.
|Explain its significance||
The fungal organism that we work on are an essential part of our everyday lives. They play a key role in the growth and health of most plant species. They are also often used by industry and we closely collaborate with industry partners that specialize in organic agricultural applications as we try to produce fungal strains that are better suited for certain plants; for example for certain specific conditions.
Ultimately, this will help the green economy and the environment by reducing the overall use of polluting fertilizers.
University of Ottawa
University of Ottawa, Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, Canada
|Type of institution|