Anouk van ‘t Padje
I am fascinated by the millions of different species living on the earth, all adapted and adapting to their own environment; able to withstand, survive, and reproduce. As organisms are not alone in their environment, they have, in time, developed ways to interact and communicate with the other organisms of their own and different species to increase their survival. My passion is to understand these communities, how did they evolve and how did they adapt themselves to changes in the environment. These interspecific interactions are extremely common in nature. And even though mutualistic relations, in which both partners benefit, are not considered to be an evolutionary stable state, because cheating would increase the benefits, it is extremely common. How can an organisms prevent to be cheated upon? Are organisms able to select their partners based on its performance, does rewarding and punishment occur and how do those interactions change when the environment changes? One system to study these questions is the extremely common and ancient symbiosis between land plants and the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
van ‘t Padje, A., Whiteside, M. D., & Kiers, E. T. (2016). Signals and cues in the evolution of plant–microbe communication. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 32, 47-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.pbi.2016.06.006