Rohan Riley

Rohan RileyCandidature

PhD Candidate

Thesis Title

Towards a predictable framework of mycorrhizal phenotypes under environmental stress

Research Project

Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) fungi associate with the roots of over 90% of plant families including major agricultural crops (i.e. Rice, Wheat, Corn, Barley). The fungi increase the absorptive area of the plant rhizosphere in addition to providing additional metabolic capabilities in resource acquisition and stress tolerance to several types of stress including salinity, drought, heat, limiting nutrients, and pathogen and herbivore attack. Salinity is recognized as a major threat to Australian and global crop production and, despite the massive benefit AM-fungi can provide to plants under saline and non-saline environments, crop breeding programs have failed to integrate the fungus' role in plant productivity. This shortfall is not surprising since the symbiotic response (e.g. growth benefit to the plant) has been difficult to predict, mechanisms of AM-conferred salinity tolerance have yet to be identified, and studying underground interaction poses technical challenges. However, recent advances in our understanding of the determinants of the symbiotic response have provided a framework (e.g. the functional equilibrium model) to study AM-plant interactions. Coupling this knowledge with the development of a new grain-crop model (i.e. Brachypodium distachyon), my project uses these technological advances to study whole plant phenotypic responses (e.g. phenomics), and sequencing technologies to study AM-fungal communities, fungal/ plant genomes, and the transcriptomic responses of both plants and their interacting fungi with the long-term aim to reconcile this shortcoming in conventional plant breeding efforts.


Book Chapter

Riley R, Charron P, Marton T, Corradi N, (2016) 'Evolutionary genomics of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi', in Molecular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis (Ed F Martin), Wiley Blackwell, pp 421-435


Powell JR, Riley RC, Cornwell W, (2017) 'Relationships between mycorrhizal type and leaf flammability in the Australian flora', Pedobiologia, vol.65, pp 43-49

Riley R, Charron P, Idnurm A, Farinelli L, Dalpé Y, Martin F, Corradi N, (2014) 'Extreme diversification of the mating type–high‐mobility group (MATA‐HMG) gene family in a plant‐associated arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus', New Phytologist, vol.201, no.1, pp 254-268

Riley R, Corradi N, (2013) 'Searching for clues of sexual reproduction in the genomes of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi',Fungal Ecology, vol.6, no.1, pp 44-49

Tisserant E, Malbreil M, Kuo A, Kohler A, Symeonidi A, Balestrini R, Charron P, Duensing N, Frei dit Frey N, Gianinazzi-Pearson V, Gilbert LB, Handa Y, Herr JR, Hijri M, Koul R, Kawaguchi M, Krajinski F, Lammers PJ, Masclaux FG, Murat C, Morin E, Ndikumana S, Pagni M, Petitpierre D, Requena N, Rosikiewicz P, Riley R, Saito K, San Clemente H, Shapiro H, Van Tuinen D, Bécard G, Bonfante P, Paszkowski U, Shachar-Hill YY, Tuskan GA, Young JPW, Sanders IR, Henrissat B, Rensing SA, Grigoriev IV, Corradi N, Roux C, Martin F, (2010) 'Genome of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus provides insight into the oldest plant symbiosis', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol.110, no.50, pp 20117-20122

Research Supervisors

A/Prof Jeff Powell, Dr Jonathan Plett, Dr Zhonghua Chen (SSH)