B1: Microbiology

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The plant microbiome plays an important role in the health, development and yield of plants. Root-associated bacteria (rhizosphere and endobacteria of the roots) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in particular play a central role in nutrient uptake and plant protection. Under drought stress, the importance of these positive properties of the root-associated microbiota increases significantly. In addition to genetic disposition, the disease resistance of plants is mainly determined by the microbiome associated with the plants and the soil microbiome. A positive correlation between microbial diversity/AMF abundance and root health can generally be observed.

The microbiome in and on the roots is controlled and promoted in its composition by the root exudates of the plants. Diverse plant populations produce diverse exudates and thus diverse microbiomes. In mixed stands, an increased bacterial and AMF abundance and diversity in the soil is expected. The extent to which this has a positive effect on plant health has not yet been investigated. In addition to the diversity of bacterial communities, it is particularly important to understand the activity of specific microbial groups that contribute, for example, to the efficient supply of nutrients to plants. The role of these communities is particularly important in the case of Fusarium species, which are mostly opportunistic pathogens that are asymptomatic in plants and then cause damage when the plants are stressed. Fusarium species are associated with different ecological niches. While Fusarium species associated with wheat roots and seeds are well characterized, there is a lack of information on Fusarium species associated with medicinal and aromatic plants.

Work packages and participants

WP 1: Micro- and molecular biological analysis of the plant microbiome

WP 2: Micro- and molecular biological analysis of the pathobiome with a focus on Fusarium pathogens in roots and seeds