Maria Harrison

William H. Crocker Professor
Maria Harrison
mjh78@cornell.edu
Office/Lab: 405/406
Phone: 607-254-6472
Office/Lab: 405/406
Email: mjh78@cornell.edu
Office Phone: 607-254-6472
Lab Phone: 607-254-6424
Affiliations: Adjunct Professor / Section of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology / School of Integrative Plant Science / Cornell University
Graduate Fields: Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology; Plant Biology
Research Areas:    Biotic Interactions / Stress Responses
Research Overview

Most vascular flowering plants are able to form symbiotic associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. These associations, named ‘arbuscular mycorrhizas’, develop in the roots, where the fungus colonizes the cortex to access carbon supplied by the plant. The fungal contribution to the symbiosis includes the transfer of mineral nutrients, particularly phosphorus, from the soil to the plant. In many soils, phosphate exists at levels that are limiting for plant growth. Consequently, additional phosphate supplied via AM fungi can have a significant impact on plant development, and this symbiosis influences the structure of plant communities in ecosystems worldwide.

The long-term goals of our research are to understand the mechanisms underlying development of the AM symbiosis and phosphate transfer between the symbionts. A model legume, Medicago truncatula, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, Glomus versiforme, Glomus intraradices and Gigaspora gigantea are used for these analyses. Currently, a combination of molecular, cell biology, genetic and genomics approaches are being used to obtain insights into development of the symbiosis, communication between the plant and fungal symbionts, and symbiotic phosphate transport.

  • 400 million years of a stable relationship: clues to the molecular basis of balance in AM symbiosis

    Researchers from the Harrison lab at BTI have identified a transcriptional program that drives arbuscule degeneration during AM symbiosis. This regulation of arbuscule lifespan has likely contributed to the 400MY stability of the symbiosis by preventing the persistence of fungal cheaters. Read more »
  • Feeding fat to fungi: evidence for lipid transfer in arbuscular mycorrhiza

    Researchers from the labs of Dr. Maria Harrison at the Boyce Thompson Institute and Dr. Peter Dörmann at the University of Bonn have produced the first experimental evidence to suggest that AM fungi also get lipids from the plant. AM-induced FatM and RAM2 may play specific roles in the biosynthesis of 16:0 βMAG, which cannot be produced by the fungus, providing a clue to understanding the obligate nature of AM fungi. Read more »
  • ‘New Visions’ of food security from Cassandra Proctor

    BTI intern Cassandra Proctor has developed a self-described “obsession” with food security. The first-year plant science major at Cornell University developed a newfound fascination with plants through her internship in the lab of BTI Professor Maria Harrison her senior year of high school. That interest deepened through her involvement with Global Youth Institute and during […] Read more »
Intern Projects
Molecular analyses of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis

Phosphorus is a critical macronutrient for proper plant growth. While phosphorus deficiencies can be improved by the application of phosphate fertilizers, it is costly, both to the farmer and to the environment. Furthermore, the crops only take up a small percentage of the applied fertilizer; the remainder is either immobilized in the soil, or carried into ground water and rivers, often resulting in pollution.

Interns in the  Harrison lab investigate two aspects of plant phosphorus nutrition. The first aspect seeks to understand the basis for the symbiotic relationships between vascular flowering plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. The fungi colonize root cells, gaining access to carbon supplied by the plant, while at the same time mobilizing mineral nutrients from the soil, including phosphorus, to be used by the plant. For this work, the lab uses the model legume, Medicago truncatula and the fungus Glomus versiforme. The Harrison lab also studies how plants find and take up phosphorus from the soil when they do not have these symbiotic relationships with fungi. This work toward understanding the mechanisms of perception and acquisition of phosphorus by plants may eventually lead to a more effective usage of fertilizers.

Internship Program | Projects & FacultyApply for an Internship
Suppression of Arbuscule Degeneration in Medicago truncatula phosphate transporter4 Mutants Is Dependent on the Ammonium Transporter 2 Family Protein AMT2;3
2015
Author(s):Breuillin-Sessoms, F., Floss, D.S., Gomez, K.S., Pumplin, N., Ding, Y., Levesque-Tremblay, V., Noar, R.D., Daniels, D.A., Bravo, A., Eaglesham, J.B., Benedito, V.A., Udvardi, M.K., and Harrison, M.J.
The Plant Cell, tpc.
114,
131144
View
DELLA proteins regulate arbuscule formation in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2013
Author(s):Floss, D.S., Levy, J.G., Levesque-Tremblay, V., Pumplin, N., and Harrison, M.J.
P. Natl. Acad. Sci., U S A
110,
E5025-5034
View
Gene silencing in Medicago truncatula roots using RNAi. Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1069, 163-177
2013
Author(s):Floss, D.S., Schmitz, A.M., Starker, C.G., Gantt, J.S., and Harrison, M.J.
Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.)
1069,
163-177
View
Using membrane transporters to improve crops for sustainable food production
2013
Author(s):Schroeder, J.I., Delhaize, E., Frommer, W.B., Guerinot, M.L., Harrison, M.J., Herrera-Estrella, L., Horie, T., Kochian, L.V., Munns, R., Nishizawa, N.K., Tsay, Y.F., and Sanders, D .
Nature
497,
60-66
View
Spatio-Temporal Expression Patterns of Arabidopsis thaliana and Medicago truncatula Defensin-Like Genes
2013
Author(s):Tesfaye, M., Silverstein, K.A.T., Nallu, S., Wang, L., Botanga, C.J., Gomez, S.K., Costa, L.M., Harrison, M.J., Samac, D.A., Glazebrook, J., Katagiri, F., Gutierrez-Marcos, J.F., and VandenBosch, K.A.
PLoS ONE
8,
e58992
View
The half-size ABC transporters STR1 and STR2 are indispensable for mycorrhizal arbuscule formation in rice
2012
Author(s):Gutjahr, C., Radovanovic, D., Geoffroy, J., Zhang, Q., Siegler, H., Chiapello, M., Casieri, L., An, K., An, G., Guiderdoni, E., Kumar, C.S., Sundaresan, V., Harrison, M.J., and Paszkowski, U.
The Plant Journal td>
, 906-920,
906-920
View
Cellular programs for arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2012
Author(s):Harrison, M.J.
Curr. Opin. Plant Biol.
15,
691-698
View
Diversity of morphology and function in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses in Brachypodium distachyon
2012
Author(s):Hong , J.J., Park, Y.S., Bravo, A., Bhattarai, K.K., Daniels, D.A., and Harrison, M.J.
Planta
236,
851-865
View
Polar localization of a symbiosis-specific phosphate transporter is mediated by a transient reorientation of secretion
2012
Author(s):Pumplin, N., Zhang, X., Noar, R.D., and Harrison, M.J.
P. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A
109,
E665-672
View
3D imaging and mechanical modeling of helical buckling in Medicago truncatula plant roots
2012
Author(s):Silverberg, J.L., Noar, R.D., Packer, M.S., Harrison, M.J., Henley, C.L., Cohen, I., and Gerbode, S.J.
P. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A
109,
16794-16799
View
Arsenate induces the expression of fungal genes involved in As transport in arbuscular mycorrhiza. Fungal Biol., 115, 1197-1209
2011
Author(s):Gonzalez-Chavez, M.C., P., O.-L.M., Carrillo-Gonzalez, R., Lopez-Meyer, M., Xoconostle-Cazares, B., Gomez, S.K., Harrison, M.J., Figueroa-Lopez, A.M., and Maldonado-Mendoza, I.E.
Fungal Biol.
115,
1197-1209
View
Medicago truncatula mtpt4 mutants reveal a role for nitrogen in the regulation of arbuscule degeneration in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2011
Author(s):Javot, H., Penmetsa, R.V., Breuillin, F., Bhattarai, K.K., Noar, R.D., Gomez, S.K., Zhang, Q., Cook, D.R., and Harrison, M.J.
Plant J
68,
954-965
View
Phosphate transporters in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. In Arbuscular Mycorrhizas: Physiology and Function
2010
Author(s):Harrison, M.J., Pumplin, N., Breuillin, F.J., Noar, R.D., and Park, H.-J.
(Koltai, H. and Kapulnik, Y. eds). 0: New York, Springer
Genomic inventory and transcriptional analysis of Medicago truncatula transporters
2010
Author(s):Benedito, V.A., Li, H.Q., Dai, X.B., Wandrey, M., He, J., Kaundal, R., Torres-Jerez, I., Gomez, S.K., Harrison, M.J., Tang, Y.H., Zhao, P.X., and Udvardi, M.K.
Plant Physiology
152,
1716-1730
View
Medicago truncatula Vapyrin is a novel protein required for arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2010
Author(s):Pumplin, N., Mondo, S.J., Topp, S., Starker, C.G., Gantt, J.S. and Harrison, M.J.
Plant J.
61,
482-494
View
Genetic variation for root architecture, nutrient uptake and mycorrhizal colonisation in Medicago truncatula accessions
2010
Author(s):Schultz, C.J., Kochian, L.V., and Harrison, M.J.
Plant and Soil
336,
113-128
View
Two Medicago truncatula half-ABC transporters are essential for arbuscule development in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2010
Author(s):Zhang, Q., Blaylock, L.A., and Harrison, M.J.
Plant Cell
22,
1483-1497
View
Live-cell imaging reveals periarbuscular membrane domains and organelle location in Medicago truncatula roots during arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2009
Author(s):Pumplin, N., and Harrison, M.J.
Plant Physiology
151,
809-81
View
Reprogramming plant cells for endosymbiosis
2009
Author(s):Oldroyd, G.E.D., Harrison, M.J., and Paszkowski, U.
Science
753-754,
753-754
View
Medicago truncatula and Glomus intraradices gene expression in cortical cells harboring arbuscules in the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2009
Author(s):Gomez, S.K., Javot, H., Deewatthanawong, P., Torres-Jerez, I., Tang, Y., Blancaflor, E.B., Udvardi, M.K., and Harrison, M.J.
BMC Plant Biol.
9,
10
View
Laser microdissection and its application to analyze gene expression in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2009
Author(s):Gomez, S.K., and Harrison, M.J.
Pest Management Science
65,
504-511
View
Novel plant and fungal AGP-like proteins in the Medicago truncatula-Glomus intraradices arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2008
Author(s):Schultz, C.J., and Harrison, M.J.
Mycorrhiza
18,
403-412
View
The Medicago truncatula ortholog of Arabidopsis EIN2, sickle, is a negative regulator of symbiotic and pathogenic microbial associations
2008
Author(s):Penmetsa, R.V., Uribe, P., Anderson, J., Lichtenzveig, J., Gish, J.C., Nam, Y.W., Engstrom, E., Xu, K., Sckisel, G., Pereira, M., Baek, J.M., Lopez-Meyer, M., Long, S.R., Harrison, M.J., Singh, K.B., Kiss, G.B., and Cook, D.R.
Plant J.
55,
580-595
View
Closely related members of the Medicago truncatula PHT1 phosphate transporter gene family encode phosphate transporters with distinct biochemical activities
2008
Author(s):Liu, J.Y., Versaw, W.K., Pumplin, N., Gomez, S.K., Blaylock, L.A., and Harrison, M.J.
Journal of Biological Chemistry
283,
24673-24681
View
A Medicago truncatula phosphate transporter indispensable for the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
2007
Author(s):Javot, H., Penmetsa, R.V., Terzaghi, N., Cook, D.R., and Harrison, M.J.
P. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A
104,
1720-1725
View
Signaling in the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis
2005
Author(s):Harrison, M.J.
Annual Review of Microbiology
59,
19-42
View
Transcript Profiling Coupled with Spatial Expression Analyses Reveals Genes Involved in Distinct Developmental Stages of an Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis
2003
Author(s):Liu, J. Y., Blaylock, L.A., Endre, G., Cho, J., Town, C.D., VandenBosch, K.A., and Harrison, M.J.
Plant Cell
15,
2106-2123
View
A chloroplast phosphate transporter, PHT2;1, influences allocation of phosphate within the plant and phosphate-starvation responses
2002
Author(s):Versaw, W.K., and Harrison, M.J.
Plant Cell
14,
1751-1766
View
Root-specific phosphate transporter promoters
Maria Harrison
Technology Area:Enabling Technology - Gene Expression
US Patent/Application(s): 12/257,276
Publication: Plant Bio 2006
MtHP promoter element
Maria Harrison
Technology Area:Enabling Technology - Gene Expression
US Patent/Application(s): 7,056,743
Publication: Mol Breed 2005
Plant phytase genes and methods of use
Maria Harrison
Technology Area:Yield Inputs
US Patent/Application(s): 7,557,265
Publication: Planta 2005
Plants with increased phosphorous uptake
Maria Harrison
Technology Area:Yield Inputs
US Patent/Application(s): 7,417,181