I am one of the 15 ESRs from a Marie Curie ITN project called "MiRA" - Microbe induced resistances in plants against agricultural pests.
Plants are intimately associated with a diversity of beneficial microorganisms in their root zone, some of which can enhance the plant’s resistance to insect pests. Thus, the use of Microbe-induced Resistance (MiR) to reduce pest losses in agriculture has emerged as a highly promising possibility to improve crop resilience and reduce the application of harmful pesticides. European companies have therefore started to develop and market beneficial microbes. However, MiR appears to be strongly context-dependent, with reduced benefits under certain biotic and abiotic conditions and in some crop varieties. Further, it is a challenge to deliver and ensure stable associations of beneficial microbes and plants and avoid undesired effects on beneficial insects. Thus through this project, with a broad focus on using Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF), we aim to improve our understanding of MiR mechanisms and context-dependency, in order to improve context stability of MiR and promote the use of MiR for crop protection.