Establishment and stability of mutualistic interactions has been an outstanding question for evolutionary biologists. In my research, I address this issue with the plant – rhizobia mutualism. I focus on developing a methodology to study control in the particular Parasponia – Rhizobium partnership using manipulation experiments to force cheating behaviours from the symbiont.
Going forward, I want to investigate host – symbiont interactions across the nitrogen fixing plant phylogeny to determine whether the processes at play are general or species specific. Ultimately, I aim to contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of host control over its symbiont.