PB B: Agricultural biocoenosis

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Project area B is primarily concerned with the analysis of ecosystem services of microorganisms (SP B1) and insects (SP B2) as the most species-rich groups of organisms on earth. As they provide valuable ecosystem services, they are indispensable in our food supply chains. We are analyzing how certain groups of organisms and their ecosystem services change in relation to the experimental variants. Through multi-year monitoring at the four field trial sites and within the framework of experiments, we are analyzing the influence of the biodiversity differences generated by the cultivation of annual and perennial spice plants in pure seed and mixed cultivation on the pest infestation and yield of the crops. This is done in SP B1will carry out microbiological and molecular biological analyses in and on the plant roots to record the diversity and composition of the root microbiota and quantify functional genes with regard to ecosystem services. On the other hand, the most important Fusarium pathogens in roots and seeds will be identified in order to test whether the plant diversity in the mixtures has an effect on the beneficial microbial diversity and the pathobiome of the plants. In SP B2an analysis of insect diversity at different times of the year is carried out in order to analyze ecosystem services with regard to pollination, control of herbivores and promotion of beneficial insects. Furthermore, the population densities of selected pests and their antagonists, migratory movements of beneficial insects between mixing partners by means of capture-mark-recapture methods and choice experiments with volatile plant substances of the spice plants are analyzed to test the effects of mixed cultivation on the attractiveness for beneficial insects and pests. The results obtained are used to optimize the spatial arrangement of the partners.