Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Katie Field

University Academic Fellow in Soil Plant Processes
School of Biology

Background: 2016-present BBSRC Translational Fellow, University of Leeds; 2015-present UAF in plant soil processes, University of Leeds; 2015 PIP Fellow, University of Sheffield; 2009-2014 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Sheffield; 2009 PhD, University of Sheffield; 2005 BSc. (Hons) Plant Sciences, University of Durham

Contact:  Manton 9.01, +44(0) 113 34 32849, email address for  

You can read more about Dr Field's interests here:
http://www.plants.leeds.ac.uk/people/groups_fie.php

Plant-fungal symbioses and their applications in sustainable agriculture

Today, it is estimated that more than 80% of land plants, representing over 90% of plant families, form nutritional symbioses with soil-dwelling fungi. These associations are known as ‘mycorrhiza’, or ‘mycorrhiza-like’ in plants without roots. Through these associations, plants assimilate fungal-acquired mineral nutrients from beyond root depletion zones. In return, plants supply their fungal partners with carbohydrates fixed from atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

Many key crop species have been shown to be able to form mutualistic symbioses with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. This is leading to the development of novel approaches in crop breeding and agricultural practices, encouraging the formation of mycorrhizal associations and utilisation of previously plant-inaccessible phosphorus pools. Fundamental research on various wild plant species has shown that the efficiency by which plant-fixed carbon is exchanged for fungal-acquired nutrients is affected by environmental perturbation, such as CO2 concentration. By using combined ecophysiology, metabolomics and isotope tracer techniques, my research aims to expand our understanding of crop-mycorrhiza-environment interactions with important applications in sustainable agriculture.

Evolutionary ecophysiology

How did the biotic and abiotic environments interact to drive plant evolution and the development of the terrestrial biosphere?

This key question underpins my research into the interactions between ancient land plant lineages and symbiotic soil fungi.  Plant-fungal symbioses date back to when plants first colonized Earth’s landmasses more than 475 million years ago.

Through the Palaeozoic, CO2 concentrations declined dramatically. This was largely being driven by, and provides the backdrop for, diversification of the terrestrial flora with plants increasing in number, stature, morphological complexity and demand for inorganic carbon. Fossil and molecular evidence suggest that the earliest plants to emerge onto the land were likely similar to modern-day liverworts. As such, these tiny plants provide an excellent opportunity for us to understand how mycorrhiza-like associations in the earliest plants may have facilitated plant domination of the terrestrial biosphere. Recent findings show that the earliest plants may not have associated with mycorrhizal fungi of the Glomeromycota as has been hitherto assumed, instead fungi of the Mucoromycotina may well have been key players in plant terrestrialization.

We are only just starting to understand the diversity, structure and physiological function of the relationships between early branching lineages of land plants and their symbiotic fungi. We aim to shed new light on the role fungal symbionts may have played in the development of Earth’s ecosystems.

 

Current Projects

Interactions between crops, arbuscular mycorrhizas and CO2BBSRC (2016-2021)

Shifting symbiotic scenrios at the dawn of land plant-fungus associations, NERC (2016-2019)

Ancient land plant-fungal symbioses, Royal Society (2015-2016)

 

 

Faculty Research and Innovation



Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal physiology, climate change, sustainable agriculture, plant evolution

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Plant-rhizosphere interactions
  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal functioning and responses to environmental change
  • Use of mycorrhizas in sustainable agriculture
  • Plant evolutionary ecophysiology
  • See https://www.findaphd.com/search/projectdetails.aspx?PJID=63089 for current PhD opportunities

See also:

Modules taught

BIOL5294M - MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal
BIOL5392M - Bioscience MSc Research Project
BLGY1005 - Tutorials (Joint Honours)
BLGY3021 - Research Project
BLGY3133 - Advanced Topics in Ecology
BLGY3340 - Biology Research Projects
BLGY5191M - Biodiversity and Conservation MSc and MRes Summer Project

Miss Grace Hoysted  (Research Fellow in early plant fungal symbioses)

Mrs Beverley Merry  (Research Technician)

Miss Daria Pastok  (Research Technician )

Mr Thomas Thirkell  (Research Fellow in Translational Plant Biology )


Postgraduates

Michael Charters (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Ashleigh Elliott (Primary supervisor) 34% FTE

Thirkell TJ, Charters MD, Elliott AJ, Sait SM, Field KJ Are mycorrhizal fungi our sustainable saviours? Considerations for achieving food security Journal of Ecology 105 921-929, 2017
DOI:10.1111/1365-2745.12788
View abstract

Field KJ, Davidson SJ, Alghamdi SA, Cameron DD Chapter 21. Magnitude, Dynamics, and Control of the Carbon Flow to Mycorrhizas In Mycorrhizal Mediation of Soil Fertility, Structure, and Carbon Storage , 2016
View abstract

Pressel S, Bidartondo MI, Field KJ, Rimington WR, Duckett JG Pteridophyte fungal associations: Current knowledge and future perspectives Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54 666-678, 2016
DOI:10.1111/jse.12227
View abstract

Rimington WR, Pressel S, Field KJ, Strullu-Derrien C, Duckett JG, Bidartondo MI Reappraising the origin of mycorrhizas In Molecular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis , 2016
DOI:10.1002/9781118951446.ch2
View abstract

Field KJ, Rimington WR, Bidartondo MI, Allinson KE, Beerling DJ, Cameron DD, Duckett JG, Leake JR, Pressel S Functional analysis of liverworts in dual symbiosis with Glomeromycota and Mucoromycotina fungi under a simulated Palaeozoic CO 2 decline ISME Journal 10 1514-1526, 2016
DOI:10.1038/ismej.2015.204
View abstract

Field KJ, Pressel S, Duckett JG, Rimington WR, Bidartondo MI Symbiotic options for the conquest of land Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30 477-486, 2015
DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2015.05.007
View abstract

Field KJ, Duckett JG, Cameron DD, Pressel S Stomatal density and aperture in non-vascular land plants are non-responsive to above-ambient atmospheric CO2 concentrations ANNALS OF BOTANY 115 915-922, 2015
DOI:10.1093/aob/mcv021

Field KJ, Leake JR, Tille S, Allinson KE, Rimington WR, Bidartondo MI, Beerling DJ, Cameron DD From mycoheterotrophy to mutualism: Mycorrhizal specificity and functioning in Ophioglossum vulgatum sporophytes New Phytologist 205 1492-1502, 2015
DOI:10.1111/nph.13263
View abstract

Field KJ, Rimington WR, Bidartondo MI, Allinson KE, Beerling DJ, Cameron DD, Duckett JG, Leake JR, Pressel S First evidence of mutualism between ancient plant lineages (Haplomitriopsida liverworts) and Mucoromycotina fungi and its response to simulated Palaeozoic changes in atmospheric CO2 New Phytologist 205 743-756, 2015
DOI:10.1111/nph.13024

Lutz S, Anesio AM, Field K, Benning LG Integrated 'Omics', targeted metabolite and single-cell analyses of arctic snow algae functionality and adaptability Frontiers in Microbiology 6 -, 2015
DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01323
View abstract

Field KJ Mycorrhizal networks in ecosystem structure and functioning Functional Ecology Virtual Issue: -, 2014
View abstract

Field KJ, George R, Fearn B, Quick WP, Davey MP Best of Both Worlds: Simultaneous High-Light and Shade-Tolerance Adaptations within Individual Leaves of the Living Stone Lithops aucampiae PLoS ONE 8 -, 2013
DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0075671
View abstract

Brunetti C, George RM, Tattini M, Field KJ, Davey MP Metabolomics in plant environmental physiology Journal of Experimental Botany 64 4011-4020, 2013
DOI:10.1093/jxb/ert244
View abstract

Field KJ, Cameron DD, Leake JR, Tille S, Bidartondo MI, Beerling DJ Contrasting arbuscular mycorrhizal responses of vascular and non-vascular plants to a simulated Palaeozoic CO<inf>2</inf>decline Nature Communications 3 -, 2012
DOI:10.1038/ncomms1831
View abstract

Field KJ, Lake JA Environmental metabolomics links genotype to phenotype and predicts genotype abundance in wild plant populations Physiologia Plantarum 142 352-360, 2011
DOI:10.1111/j.1399-3054.2011.01480.x
View abstract

Lake JA, Field KJ, Davey MP, Beerling DJ, Lomax BH Metabolomic and physiological responses reveal multi-phasic acclimation of Arabidopsis thaliana to chronic UV radiation Plant, Cell and Environment 32 1377-1389, 2009
DOI:10.1111/j.1365-3040.2009.02005.x
View abstract

Wilson PB, Estavillo GM, Field KJ, Pornsiriwong W, Carroll AJ, Howell KA, Woo NS, Lake JA, Smith SM, Harvey Millar A, Von Caemmerer S, Pogson BJ The nucleotidase/phosphatase SAL1 is a negative regulator of drought tolerance in Arabidopsis Plant Journal 58 299-317, 2009
DOI:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03780.x
View abstract

Lake JA, Field KJ Does genetic diversity in plants matter? An environmental metabolomic approach Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular&Integrative Physiology 150 S190-S190, 2008