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Elena Sturm

Research interests

The terrestrialization of plants took place approximately 450 million years ago during the Cambrian to early Ordovician periods. This transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial environment occurred only once in the plant kingdom and likely required the establishment of arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis (AMS). Given the strong connection between AMS and the phosphate starvation response (PSR), understanding the importance of AMS for terrestrialization begins with analyzing PSR.

My primary objective is to explore the shared characteristics and disparities in PSR between evolutionarily distant species: the bryophyte M. paleacea and the green algae Zygnema spec. Additionally, I aim to elucidate the role of PHR in M. paleacea concerning the interplay between PSR and AMS regulation.

Another focus of my research is the kinase-mediated signaling downstream of the plasma membrane, which is necessary for maintaining AMS. We aim to delve into the intricate network of interactions between receptor-like kinases (RLKs) and receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs), particularly KIN2 with SymRK and KIN5, which constitute the poorly understood cytoplasmic signaling mechanism underlying AMS. Our investigation will encompass both M. paleacea and Zygnema, with the objective of identifying any evolutionarily conserved components that bridge cellular peripheral signaling with nuclear transcriptional reprogramming.

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  • Mutualistic Marchantia paleacea
  • Non-mutualistic Marchantia polymorpha
  • Zygnema spec.


University of Cologne
Institute of Plant Sciences
Zülpicher Str. 47b
D-50674 Cologne

Tel.: +49 (0)221 470-8222