I am interested in the mechanisms of sex evolution and self/nonself recognition. In particular, I am interested in how symbiotic organisms, known to be asexual, continue to evolve and to adapt. Do they exchange genetic material and if how they recognize the self to the nonself?
The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are particularly interesting organisms to study these mechanisms. These fungi which symbiosis with plants is ancient, widespread and vital to the life of plants, are thought to be asexual. Moreover, a genetic exchange intra- and inter-isolates was recently discovered in our lab.
My current research objectives include elucidating the molecular mechanism of mating and self/nonself recognition in the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Glomus intraradices. I'm employing methods from molecular-, population-, and phylogenetics to compare the genome of this AMF with their sexual relatives, to test theories for the maintenance of sex, to investigate the consequences of long-term asexual evolution on genome structure and to describe the evolution of self/nonself recognition system between fungi.