On 22 February, Dr Simona Radutoiu, Associate Professor from Aarhus University, Denmark, visited our department and delighted us with her seminar ‘Nod factor recognition at root epidermis and its impact on microbiota assembly in Lotus japonicas’.
Simona explained to us how some plants, which are known as legumes and include important foods such as beans, peas and lentils, have a special relationship with certain bacteria, which are known as rhizobia. This relationship is symbiotic since both the plant and the bacteria benefit.
In her talk Simona described to us the important role that the Nod factor recognition plays in the communication of the legume Lotus japonicas and their symbiont Mesorhizobium loti.
The plant-microbe interaction is a very complex area and there is a tendency to study only one of the parties involved in this relationship, either the plant or the microbe. I was astonished to see in this talk how in the group that Simona leads they don’t take a side and they listen both sides of this symbiotic relationship.
After the seminar, Simona had a relaxed meeting with Plant Sciences students, where she described in a very clear way some of the most complicated experiments performed by her group. Besides the scientific discussion she also shared her personal experiences and the best advice she gave us was to do research in the area we are most passionate about because that will make us happy, the key to a balanced personal-professional life.
As a student, this was a very fruitful seminar, since I learned about new findings in my research area and also, as a woman in science myself, it was very satisfactory to see a prominent female professor, giving me hope that a successful career in STEM is possible!
Marcela Mendoza-Suárez is a DPhil student in the Rhizosphere Lab. Follow her @marcemendoza.