Plants are surrounded by an enormous diversity of microorganisms both on the leaves and in and around its roots. Merely a small part of this diversity, mainly plant pathogens and a few beneficial organisms, such as mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia, are well-known. The influence of the rest of the biodiversity on plant health and resilience in general is almost completely unknown.
We investigate the interaction between plants and this enormous microbial biodiversity and its influence on plant resilience. We study how the plant assembles its microbiome, e.g. via the release of secondary metabolites. We investigate how the plant benefits from the microbiome to improve nutrient uptake or to prevent disease from developing. We have a special focus on the influence of the microbiome on harmful fungi, oomycetes and nematodes. We also study links between above- and belowground biodiversity and how agronomic practices such as crop rotation, tillage and fertilization affect the microbial biodiversity in soil and thus plant resilience and growth.
We mostly work with metagenomics, which with a very high solution indicates which microorganisms are present in a given environment, how they change under various influences and which functions they perform. We have close collaboration with the agricultural sector, as we strive to transfer our results to use in sustainable plant production harnessing the benefits if biodiversity