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Interactions and evolution of vegetal and fungal models
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité
ISYEB - UMR 7205 - CNRS, MNHN, UMPC, EPHE
57 Rue Cuvier - CP39
F-75005 Paris - France
Invited professor at the Universities of Gdansk (Poland) and Viçosa (Brazil)
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My main research activities focus on mycorrhizal symbioses, which link most plant roots to soil fungi. I use methods from molecular biology to investigate microbial populations and mycorrhizal communities, which are largely comprised of non-cultivable species.
Molecular identification of microbes has led to profound advances in our understanding of the diversity and evolution of these symbioses.
Moreover, isotopic methods (natural abundance of stable isotopes, 13C and 15N) provide efficient tools for investigating plant and fungal exchanges in situ.
I try to keep a strong naturalist eye and expertise in mycology and botany. Using mycorrhizal associations as model systems, my co-workers and I address questions about the ecology and evolution of symbiosis. Four main research themes can be distinguished :
1 – Population genetics of ectomycorrhizal fungi (1994 – present), from local (forest stand) to global (trans-continental) scale, especially in the genus Laccaria, and more recently on Amanita and Tuber species.
2 – Ectomycorrhizal communities in Mediterranean forests (1998 – present), with a focus on their response to human and climatic disturbances, not only in terms of taxonomy, but also at functional level (secreted enzymatic activities).
3 – Mycoheterotrophy (2001 - present), i.e. biology and physiology of plants that use their mycorrhizal fungi as a carbon source, either exclusively (full mycoheterotrophy), or in addition to photosynthesis (green ‘mixotrophic’ plants). Identity of associated fungi and plant ecophysiology are under focus in temperate and tropical regions.
4 – Orchid mycorrhizae (2001 - present), fungal partners (diversity, coevolution), anatomy of the interaction (TEM), and plant metabolism (Cf. item 3), in temperate and tropical regions.
I am more generally interested in symbiosis and its evolution in general, with a particular penchant for some models, such as the hyper-diverse Sebacinales, or the orchid tribe Neottieae and its fascinating albino individuals. Currently, my research also focuses on truffle (Tuber melanosporum, within themes 1, 2 and 3).
This is a team story : as you will see from authors’ names in my publication list, this research would not have been possible without numerous collaborators !
I’m an editor of the New Phytologist and an associate editor of Symbiosis
and Acta Botanica Gallica as well as Espèces and the Journal de Botanique. I am president of the French Botanical Society (Société Botanique de France) and vice-president of the International Society for Symbiosis. I also work in the scientific committees of the Société Française d’Orchidophilie and Tela botanica.
I teach actively at Muséum and in various universities and ‘grandes écoles’ (AgroParisTech, Ecole Normale supérieure at Paris (rue d’Ulm) and Lyon). My topics cover plants, algae and fungi (from biology to ecology), biology of interaction, as well as evolution, and I teach as often as possible in the field. I devote attention to future biology teachers, and invest in outreach by way of talks, field trips, papers –see below- and books, eg. on symbiosis. (Vuibert Ed., 2000).