MSc Candidate Grace Daly in Dr. David Miller’s Lab presented on “Can we push out the cheaters?” at the Partnership Exchange this past week.

Plants and fungal endophytes exist in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship, where both organisms benefit from the activity of the other. Some endophytes are ‘cheaters‘ because they use the plant for its resources without providing any benefits in return. The white pine blister rust, is a fungal pathogen which kills white pine trees and therefore heavily impacts Canada’s forestry industry.  Certain endophytes produce beneficial chemicals that help the tree defend itself against harmful fungal pathogens and insects. We are trying to identify fungal endophytes of white pine, which produce chemicals that are specifically toxic to the white pine blister rust. The goal is to introduce these ‘good fungi’ into pine seedlings, to ultimately push out the cheating endophytes and help the tree be more tolerant to the pathogen.

More information can be found here.