University of Calcutta, Kolkata
Maitrayee DasGupta is a faculty in the Department of Biochemistry, Calcutta University since 1994. She did her PhD from Bose Institute, Kolkata, and postdoc from the University of Texas, USA. Her research aims at delineating molecular principles that underlie the symbiotic interactions between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria where she focuses on understanding the adaptation of receptor kinases to accommodate the beneficial bacteria in host plants. She is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India and the West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology. She was elected a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 2018.
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Challenges in extending symbiotic nitrogen fixation beyond current host range
Only a handful of selected plants restricted to a monophyletic clade within angiosperms are blessed with the ability to undertake symbiotic nitrogen fixation. It is a mutualistic relationship between a plant and a nitrogen-fixing bacteria and involves carbon–nitrogen exchange. Symbionts are accommodated in the intracellular organelle-like compartments in a microaerophilic niche where they convert atmospheric N2 to NH3, thereby giving an endogenous source of fertilizer to the host plants. There is considerable interest in exploring whether similar symbioses can be engineered in our crop plants to reduce their dependence on nitrogenous fertilizers. Prime candidates that are responsible for the adaptations to symbiotic nitrogen fixation would be discussed in the backdrop of the challenges to its extension to plants outside the competent clade.