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Department of Plant Sciences


Research Group


Research Overview

My research focuses on understanding and optimising the cost-benefit balance of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, one of the oldest and most widespread symbioses on Earth. This symbiotic relationship provides significant nutritional benefits to plants, however, it is also associated with a substantial carbon cost. I am particularly interested in identifying the molecular mechanisms that allow plants to regulate carbon allocation to mycorrhizal fungi. My aim is to exploit these regulatory mechanisms to engineer plants with optimised resource allocation to mycorrhizal fungi for enhanced nutritional benefits. My research also explores the potential of using the symbiosis to increase carbon sequestration in the soil. To this end, my group uses a combination of different approaches, including carbon tracing, single-cell and whole-tissue transcriptomics, targeted mutagenesis, microscopy imaging, and molecular biology techniques.



  • IA Biology of Cells
  • IA Physiology of Organisms
  • IB field course to Portugal


Previous Positions

  • 2020-2022 Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge
  • 2017-2019 Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge



  • 2012-2017 PhD in Plant Molecular Biology, John Innes Centre, UK
  • 2010-2012 MSc in Biology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2009-2010 BSc in Biology, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • 2006-2009 BSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland


Key Publications

Chloroplast development in green plant tissues (2021), New Phytologist 

Fluorescent reporters for functional analysis in rice leaves (2020), Plant Direct

Fatty acids in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are synthesized by the host plant (2017), Science

Understanding the arbuscule at the heart of endomycorrhizal symbioses in plants (2017), Current Biology


All Publications

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Plant Symbiosis Website

Head of Plant Physiology and Symbiosis Group
Assistant Professor
Leonie Luginbuehl

Contact Details

Email address: 
Department of Plant Sciences,
University of Cambridge,
Downing Street,