Our research can be divided into microbial community ecology and applied microbial ecology (with some overlap)
Current research projects
Current conventional agriculture relies heavily on high nutrient inputs taken up directly by plants. In these systems, plants are considered as sole players, disregarding plant traits that can improve the recruitment of beneficial soil microbes for nutrient mobilization and plant protection. This is particularly true in potato cultivation, where many varieties have underdeveloped root systems. As a result, they are susceptible to pests and other environmental stress factors including changes in climate.
The aim of the potatoMETAbiome project is to identify potato genotypes that interact effectively with the soil microbiome – generating cultivars that have reduced dependencies on external inputs while maintaining high yields. Potato varieties will be selected for microbiome-interactive traits (MIT) and analysed for both plant and microbiome genomics, thus identifying the mechanisms controlling the positive effect of the microbiome and genetic markers associated with MIT for use in future potato breeding strategies. Moreover, we will evaluate how the use of biologicals can boost nutrient uptake, as well as resilience to biotic (disease) and abiotic stress (drought).