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Frances Burton

Hi and welcome to my e-portfolio!

I am a PhD student working in Dr. Patrick Schäfer's group, in the School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick. My PhD project its titled 'Molecular basis of Serendipita indica mediated mutualism in plants', and investigates at how the fungus S. indica, is able to induce stress tolerance in a broad range of host plant species.

Research Interests

Serendipita indica (formerly Piriformospora indica) is a mutualistic root-colonising fungus from the Sebacinales order, that promotes growth and stress resistance in plants during sub-optimal conditions. It can colonise the roots of a range of plant species including trees, agricultural, horticultural and medicinal plants, monocots, diots and mosses. This makes the fungus widely applicable to many agriculturally important crops.

S. indica has been shown to have many beneficial effects on its host plant including enhanced growth greater drought and salinity tolerance, as well as higher disease resistance against root and leaf pathogens. The fungus also induces earlier seed ripening and higher grain yields in cereal plants. Therefore S. indica has many potential uses in agriculture and food security. I am investigating how S. indica can deliver these benefits in the host plant, which is currently unknown.

Research interests include: plant-microbe interactions, effector biology, plant immunity and stress responses, molecular biology, soil communities, plant pathogens.

Academic Record

Jan 2014 - Jan 2017 PhD in Plant-Microbe interactions, University of Warwick

Oct 2010 - Jul 2013 BSc Biological Sciences (Hons), University of Warwick


Lareen A, Burton F, Schäfer P. Plant root-microbe communication in shaping root microbiomes. Plant Molecular Biology. 2016;90:575-587. doi:10.1007/s11103-015-0417-8.


- Prof. Pascal Braun, Technische Universität München, Germany

- Dr. Jafar Imani, University of Giessen, Germany

- Dr. Sascha Ott, University of Warwick, UK

- Dr. Nigel Dyer, University of Warwick, UK

- Dr. Lijiang Song, University of Warwick, UK

Research Funding

My research is funded by BASF.



Frances Burton

F dot Burton at warwick dot ac dot uk

School of Life Sciences,

Gibbet Hill Campus,

University of Warwick,

Coventry, UK