Signalling mechanism enhancing root nodule symbiosis


Nitrogen (N) acquisition is fundamental for plant growth. However, N is poorly available in soils, leading to extensive and costly chemical fertiliser applications.
It is estimated that 50-70% of nitrogen-derived fertilizer provided to the soil is lost, giving rise to soil and water pollution as well as global warming through emissions of nitrous oxide. Lowering fertilizer input and breeding crops with better nitrogen use efficiency is one of the main goals of plant nutrition research. Soil microbes such as endosymbionts provide an important source of natural fertilizers for crops.

Notably legume form root nodule symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that improve their nitrogen uptake directly, and the nutrient uptake for subsequent crops indirectly by generating a soil-enhancing green manure. Thus, the use of root endosymbionts as natural sources of fertilizers can form part of the solution to reduce chemical fertilizer inputs.

By combining the state-of-the-art technics in cell biology, genetics, molecular biology and proteomic, this project aims at characterizing a novel signalling pathway modulating root nodule symbiosis.

The insights gained from this project will deliver unique knowledge to develop strategy aiming at enhancing root nodule symbiosis and, thus optimizing nitrogen nutrition, whilst ensuring long-term agricultural sustainability.

To achieve this goal, the student will be part of an enthusiastic and collegial team within an international and vibrant scientific environment gathering cutting-edge research facilities and training opportunities.


Del Cerro P., Cook N.M., Huisman R., Dangeville P., Grubb L.E., Marchal C., Ho Ching Lam A., Charpentier M. (2022). Engineered CaM2 modulates nuclear calcium oscillation and enhances legume root nodule symbiosis. PNAS. 29:119.

Chakraborty S., Valdes-Lopez O., Stonoha-Arther C., Ane JM. (2022). Transcription factors controlling the rhizobium-legume symbiosis: Integrating infection, organogenesis, and the abiotic environment. Plant Cell Physiology. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcac063.

Charpentier M, Sun J, Vas Martinez T, et al., (2016). Nuclear-localised cyclic nucleotide gated channels mediate symbiotic calcium oscillations. Science. 352(6289):1102-05.