I am a fungal biologist with an interest in evolutionary genetics.
My overall interest is in the evolutionary biology of fungi with a special emphasis on fungal reproductive biology and symbiotic associations. My work to date focused on one lineage of fungi known as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi (Glomeromycota). Glomeromycota colonize roots of the majority of land plants, including many crop species, and form a symbiosis, in which the fungi assist plants in the uptake of mineral nutrients in exchange for plant-assimilated carbon. My short-term research goals are to understand several aspects of the basic biology of these organisms:
1. The reproductive biology and evolution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
2. The role of common mycorrhizal networks in the ecology and evolution of arbuscular mycorrhiza.
3. The role of bacterial endosymbionts in the biology of Glomeromycota and in the functioning of arbuscular mycorrhizae.
Outreach and Extension Focus
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomeromycota) facilitate plant mineral nutrient uptake and play an important role in the functioning of plant communities, both natural and managed. Because of this role in plant mineral nutrition, Glomeromycota hold a promise of becoming a substitute for chemical fertilizers.
My undergraduate teaching efforts center around evolution and ecology of mutualisms with a particular emphasis on microbial interactions. In my graduate-level teaching, I explore evolution of reproductive modes.
Awards and Honors
- Donald C. Burgett Distinguished Advisor Award (2018) Graduating Senior Class in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Pawlowska, T. E., Gaspar, M. L., Lastovetsky, O. A., Mondo, S. J., Real-Ramirez, I., & Bonfante, P. (2018). Biology of fungi and their bacterial endosymbionts. Annual Review of Phytopathology. 56:289-309.
- Lastovetsky, O. A., Ahn, E., Mondo, S. J., Toomer, K. H., Johnson, L. M., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2018). Distribution and population structure of endobacteria in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi at North Atlantic dunes. The ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology. 12:3001–3013.
- Naito, M., Desirò, A., Gonzalez, . B., Tao, G., Morton, . B., Bonfante, P., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2017). 'Candidatus Moeniiplasma glomeromycotorum', an endobacterium of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 67:1177–1184.
- Mondo, S. J., Lastovetsky, O. A., Gaspar, M., Schwardt, N. H., Barber, C. C., Riley, R., Sun, H., Grigoriev, I. V., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2017). Bacterial endosymbionts influence host sexuality and reveal reproductive genes of early divergent fungi. Nature Communications. 8:9.
- Naito, M., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2016). Defying Muller’s Ratchet: Ancient heritable endobacteria escape extinction through retention of recombination and genome plasticity. mBio. 7:e02057-15.
- Lastovetsky, O. A., Gaspar, M., Mondo, S. J., LaButti, K. M., Sandor, L., Grigoriev, I. ., Henry, S. A., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2016). Lipid metabolic changes in an early divergent fungus govern the establishment of a mutualistic symbiosis with endobacteria. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113:15102-15107.
- Mondo, S. J., Salvioli, A., Bonfante, P., Morton, J. B., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2016). Nondegenerative evolution in ancient heritable bacterial endosymbionts of fungi. MBE: Molecular Biology and Evolution. 10.1093/molbev/msw086.
- Naito, M., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2016). The role of mobile genetic elements in evolutionary longevity of heritable endobacteria. Mobile Genetic Elements. 6:e1136375.
- Naito, M., Joseph, M. B., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2015). Minimal genomes of mycoplasma-related endobacteria are plastic and contain host-derived genes for sustained life within Glomeromycota. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 10.1073/pnas.1501676112.
- Toomer, K. H., Chen, X., Naito, M., Mondo, S. J., den Bakker, H. C., VanKuren, N. W., Lekberg, Y., Morton, J. B., & Pawlowska, T. E. (2015). Molecular evolution patterns reveal life history features of mycoplasma-related endobacteria associated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Molecular Ecology. 10.1111/mec.13250.
Presentations and Activities
- Distribution and population structure of endobacteria in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi at North Atlantic dunes. 11th International Mycological Congress. July 2018. Mycological Society of America (MSA), the International Mycological Association (IMA), the Latin American Mycological Association (ALM), the Puerto Rican Mycological Society (SPM), Universidad del Turabo and Meet Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Distribution and population structure of endobacteria in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi at North Atlantic dunes. 22nd Congress of the International Organization for Mycoplasmology. July 2018. International Organization for Mycoplasmology. Portsmouth, NH.
- Evolution in the microbiomes of fungi. Department of Microbiology. May 2018. China Agricultural University. Beijing, China.
- Evolutionary stability in fungal-bacterial symbioses. Cornell Institute of Host-Microbe Interactions & Disease Summer Symposium,. July 2017.
- Evolutionary stability in fungal-bacterial symbioses. Society of Molecular Biology & Evolution Annual Meeting. July 2017. Austin, TX.
- Bacterial endosymbionts as a tool to unravel the basic biology of Mucoromycotina. 29th Fungal Genetics Conference. March 2017. Asilomar, Pacific Grove, CA.
- Evolutionary genomics of bacterial endosymbionts of fungi. Microbiology Seminar Series. September 2015. Cornell University. Ithaca.
- Exploring microbiomes of fungi. October 2014. Drexel University. Philadelphia, PA.
- Exploring fungal microbiomes. August 2014. University of Pretoria. Pretoria, South Africa.
- The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in modern agriculture. August 2014. Agricultural Research Council. Pretoria, South Africa.