Land plants and fungi have a rich history of interactions across various environments and geological time periods. While some of these interactions can be harmful, leading to plant diseases, others offer mutual benefits to both partners. Notably, partnerships like the mycorrhizal symbiosis between plant roots and fungi play pivotal roles in supporting plant health and maintaining ecosystem balance. They enhance nutrient and water absorption, promote overall plant growth and aid in stress resilience.
This two-part course will unveil the largely unseen plant-fungal interactions that surround us in our daily lives. It will explore the intricate ways in which different kinds of plant-fungal symbioses shape our environment, influence agriculture and contribute to sustainable ecosystems.
The course will consist of lectures and practical work, offering the opportunity to view mycorrhizal fungi in your own root samples. Full instructions on preparing samples will be provided a few weeks before the beginning of the course.
Dr Alan Wanke pursued his studies in Biological Sciences in Münster, Germany. During his doctoral research in Cologne, he investigated how the plant immune system influences beneficial fungi. His academic journey led him to the University of Cambridge in 2021, where his current focus centres on exploring alternative mycorrhizal partnerships and their potential to enhance plant nutrition in agriculture.
Dr Raphaella Hull is the Interpretation and Learning Coordinator at Cambridge University Botanic Garden. She oversees the adult learning programme and works with teams from across the Garden to create content for interpretation boards and trails for adult audiences. Raphaella recently completed a PhD researching beneficial relationships between plants and fungi in the Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge and teaches plant evolution and systematics at the Institute of Continuing Education.
Bookings for this course will close 23 April
Please take the time to read our course cancellations and refunds policy.