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Simona Radutoiu

Research project: Plant-endophyte interaction

Simona Radutoiu’s research deals with the studies of plant-endophyte interaction. Endophytes are bacteria or fungi that live inside the plant colonising various tissues, sometimes inducing local plant cell death for its own proliferation, while under certain conditions or in certain hosts become parasites. Most plants, and especially agronomically important crops like rice, wheat, barley, maize and sugarcane largely benefit from this less refined plant-microbe association which leads to growth promotion, increased biomass, enhanced resistance to salt, limited soil nutrients, water or pathogenic stress.

The molecular mechanisms used by the plant to recognise and adapt to surrounding beneficial or pathogenic microbes are crucial for survival, growth and productivity. Despite its ubiquity and great influence that plant-endophyte interaction has on crops and natural ecosystems, the area has got limited attention in molecular research. Little is known about the genetic and molecular components controlling the fine-tuned balance between various hosts and endophytes, which leads to beneficial rather than pathogenic interaction. The research focuses on identifying plant genetic factors required for increased benefit from the endophyte interaction, like microbe colonization, increased host biomass and ability to grow on nutrient-limited conditions.

The research builds on findings and resources from studies of the symbiotic interactions between the model plant Lotus japonicus, and nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizae fungi, and uses the latest techniques and methods in genetics and genomic analysis to elucidate the molecular dialogue between host plants and microbes.


Simona Radutoiu has built up a network of Danish and foreign partners, which includes researchers from the Kazusa DNA Research Institute, Kisarazu, Chiba, Japan; German Research Center for Environmental Health, Munich, Germany; Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany ; Department of Basic Sciences and Environment / Bioorganic Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Institute of Genetics, Biocenter, University of Munich (LMU), Martinsried, Germany; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; EPI Division, Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRi) Invergowrie, Dundee, UK; Sejet Plant Breeding, Denmark; All-Russia Research Institute for Agricultural Microbiology, Saint-Petersburg-Pushkin, Russia.


Besides numerous publications in internationally recognised journals, Simona Radutoiu has patented -  in collaboration with other plant scientists at MBG - a couple of research results involving biotechnology development opportunities for the grain crops to form nitrogen-fixing root nodules, which could reduce use of fertilisers.