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Oct. 19, 2017

NSF awards $1.75 million for fungal-plant research at MSU

A team of Michigan State University researchers is investigating Mucoromycota, an ancient lineage of fungi, that have been found beneficial for plants.

The research initiative, which recently received a five-year, $1.75 million National Science Foundation Dimensions of Biodiversity grant, focuses on learning about the role of the endobacteria on their fungal host's growth and metabolism and the impact on fungal-plant interactions.

The project is being led by Gregory Bonito, an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The team is made up of assistant professors Bjoern Hamberger, Kevin Liu and Patrick Edger.

The diverse lineage of Mucoromycotafungi are important for lipid production and as biofertilizers in agricultural systems.

This study will provide insights to expressed genes, and will build a culture collection and database of these fungi, which will be available to other scientists.

“Such multidisciplinary work has proven to be a lot of fun,” Hamberger said. When researchers bridge across different fields to achieve a shared goal, a highly dynamic and diverse environment is created. This fosters innovation.”