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RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science RIKEN-Cambridge Joint Crop Symbiosis Research Team

Team Leader: Uta Paszkowski (Ph.D.)

Research Summary

Uta Paszkowski

Symbioses are fundamental to life on Earth. The most ancestral association between plants and fungi emerged around 450 mya and is now so widespread among terrestrial plant species that it fundamentally supports global ecosystems, as well as crop productivity and sustainability. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi belong to the Glomeromycotina subphylum, and facilitate plant mineral uptake from the soil in exchange for plant-derived organic carbon. The establishment of functional symbioses relies on the fine-tuned orchestration of signals to achieve coordination of the two interacting organisms. While considerable understanding of plant signalling mechanisms has been gained in recent years, we know near to nothing about fungal signalling components. To close this gap in knowledge, we wish to reciprocally elucidate how the fungus undergoes reprogramming to engage with its host rice.

We will use ‘omics’ approaches to comprehensively characterise transcriptional and translational activities of different functional units of the fungal mycelium in asymbiosis and symbiosis; we also aim to establish a stable transformation protocols to enable functional studies of gene leads. The rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae will be used as a genetically tractable, comparative root-fungal system.

Main Research Fields

  • Biology

Related Research Fields

  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Molecular biology
  • Cell biology
  • Plant nutrition/Soil science


  • Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis
  • Rice blast infection
  • Plant-fungal signalling
  • Spatial transcriptomics and proteomics
  • Genetic resource development (transformation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi)

Selected Publications

Papers with an asterisk(*) are based on research conducted outside of RIKEN.

  • 1. *Marcel, S, Sawers, R, Oakeley, E, Angliker, H, and Paszkowski, U.
    "Tissue-adapted invasion strategies of the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae."
    Plant Cell (2010) 22(9):3177.
  • 2. *Gutjahr C*, Gobbato E*, Choi J, Riemann M, Johnston M, Summers W, Carbonnel S, Mansfield C, Yang SY, Nadal M, Acosta I, Takano M, Jiao WB, Schneeberger K, Kelly K and Paszkowski U (*equal contribution).
    "Rice perception of symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi requires the karrikin receptor complex."
    Science (2015) 350(6267):1521
  • 3. *Nadal M, Sawers R, Naseem S, Bassin B, Kulicke C, Sharman A, An G, An K, Ahern KR, Romag A, Brutnell TP, Gutjahr C, Geldner N, Roux C, Martinoia E, Konopka JB and Paszkowski U.
    "An N-acetylglucosamine transporter required for arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses in rice and maize"
    Nat Plants (2017) 3, 17073.
  • 4. *Roth R*, Chiapello C*, Montero H, Gehrig P, Grossmann J, O’Holleran K, Hartken D, Walters F, Yang S-Y, Hillmer S, Schumacher K, Bowden S, Craze M, Wallington EJ, Miyao A, Sawers R, Martinoia E and Paszkowski U (*equal contribution).
    "A rice Serine/Threonine receptor-like kinase regulates arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis at the peri-arbuscular membrane."
    Nat Commun (2018) 9(1):4677.
  • 5. *Roth R, Hillmer S, Funaya C, Chiapello M, Schumacher K, Lo Preti L, Kahmann R and Paszkowski U.
    "Arbuscular cell invasion coincides with extracellular vesicles and membrane tubules."
    Nat Plants (2019) 5(2):204.
  • 6. *Choi J, Lee T, Cho J, Servante EK, Pucker B, Summers W, Bowden S, Rahimi M, An K, An G, Bouwmeester HJ, Wallington EJ, Oldroyd G and Paszkowski U.
    "The negative regulator SMAX1 controls mycorrhizal symbiosis and strigolactone biosynthesis in rice."
    Nat Commun (2020) 11(1):2114.
  • 7. *Dallaire A, Manley BF, Wilkens M, Bista I, Quan C, Evangelisti E, Bradshaw CR, Ramakishna NB, Schornack S, Butter F, Paszkowski U and Miska E.
    "Transcriptional activity and epigenetic regulation of transposable elements in the symbiotic fungus Rhizophagus irregularis."
    Genome Res (2021) 31(12):2290.
  • 8. *Manley B, Lotharukpong JS, Barrera-Redondo J, Llewellyn T, Yildir G, Sperschneider J, Corradi N, Paszkowski U, Miska E and Dallaire A
    "A highly contiguous genome assembly reveals sources of genomic novelty in the symbiotic fungus Rhizophagus irregularis."
    G3 (2023) 13(6):jkad077

Related Links

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Uta Paszkowski
Team Leader


Position Deadline
Seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher (Y24015) Open until filled
Seeking a Technical Staff I (CSRS-2403) Open until filled

Contact Information

Central Research Building 5F
1-7-22 Suehiro, Tsurumi, Yokohama, Kanagawa 230-0045 Japan

Email: uta.paszkowski [at] riken.jp