Christine R Voisey
My main interest involves understanding the molecular interactions between symbiotic microbes and grasses. I work primarily on the infection processes of the fungal symbiont Epichloë festucae. Seed-transmitted E. festucae hyphae invade developing grass leaves by switching from polar growth in plant meristems to intercalary growth in expanding leaves. This unusual mechanism of growth in vegetative hyphae enables the symbiont to grow in synchrony with developing host tissues. Our research focusses on understanding how hyphae sense and respond to host development by switching from polar to intercalary growth. We are also investigating the role of calcium and other fungal signalling pathways in regulating fungal growth in plants.
We are committed to solving obstacles that impede the use of novel fungal strains as bio-pesticides in grassland agriculture, and have a programme dedicated to discovery of new bioactive strains and their infection into forage grasses to enhance agricultural productivity. Incompatibility between new endophytes and grasses can disrupt host and endophyte morphology or inhibit transmission of the endophyte into seed. We are engaged in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underpin compatible interactions and also identifying host genetic markers that support optimal endophyte transmission into seed.