My research interests focus on the interactions between plants and mycorrhizal fungi, in particular on the evolution of the mycorrhizal specialization of mycoheterotrophic plants. These non-green plants cheat the belowground interaction between green plants and mycorrhizal fungi, from which they obtain their carbon.
The aim of my PhD project is to study the diversity, ecology and evolution of the interaction between mycoheterotrophic plants and their mycorrhizal partners. I am using high throughput sequencing to characterize the fungal communities in the roots of these plants, combined with phylogenetic reconstruction methods trying to detect common mycorrhizal specialization patterns among the evolutionary independent lineages of mycoheterotrophs. Also, I am interested on the ecological drivers of mycoheterotrophy at global and local scale. The advisors of my thesis are Dr. Vincent Merckx, Dr. Nadia Soudzilovskaia and Prof. Peter van Bodegom.
Fungal-host diversity among mycoheterotrophic plants increases proportionally to their fungal-host overlap. Ecol Evol. 7:3623–3630. doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2974, , .
Merckx VSFT, Gomes SIF, Wapstra M, Hunt C, Steenbeeke G, Mennes CB, Walsh N, Smissen R, Hsieh T-H, Smets EF, Bidartondo MI. 2017. The biogeographical history of the interaction between mycoheterotrophic Thismia (Thismiaceae) plants and mycorrhizal Rhizophagus (Glomeraceae) fungi. J. Biogeogr. doi:10.1111/jbi.12994
Gomes SIF, Aguirre-Gutiérrez J, Bidartondo M, Merckx VSFT. 2017. Arbuscular mycorrhizal interactions of mycoheterotrophic plants are more specialized than in surrounding green plants. New Phytol 213: 1418-1427. doi:10.1111/nph.14249
I am assistant in the MSc. field course ‘Tropical Biodiversity’ taking part in Leiden University (2 weeks) and Danau Girang Field Station, Sabah, Malaysia (2 weeks) organized by Prof. Menno Schilthuizen and Dr. Vincent Merckx.
Students from Leiden University
- Janna Horjus in the MSc project “Plant – fungus interactions of the Berkheide dune area”.
- Annisa Ratna in the MSc project “Performance of ITS and SSU markers in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi species delimitation” (successfully finished in August 2017)
Prof. Serguei Saavedra (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. USA)
Dr. Nicole Hynson (University of Hawaii, Manoa. USA)
Dr. Martin Bidartondo (Imperial College. UK)
Dr. Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez (Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The Netherlands / University of Oxford. UK)
Leiden University, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Einsteinweg 2, 2333 CC Leiden, The Netherlands
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Vondellaan 55, 2332 AA Leiden, The Netherlands