How do we prevent asparagus from rotting? Asparagus is a famous crop in the Netherlands, and found on more than 3000 hectares of farmland. Unfortunately, a number of Fusarium fungi cause a lot of problems, and there aren’t effective strategies for dealing with them. To date, the only solution is to use ground free of these pathogens, and it is becoming ever scarcer. The Westerdijk Institute for Fungal Biodiversity and the NIOO-KNAW are teaming up to look for a sustainable solution. We think the key lies in the complex community of micro-organisms in the soil surrounding the roots of the asparagus plant. Which fungi are present in wild and cultivated asparagus? How do these fungi interact with each other, and how does it affect their virulence? What role do the bacteria and viruses associated with these fungi have in determining their virulence?
This project is being carried out by postdoc Marcelo Sandoval, who is working with Pedro Crous and Ewald Groenewald at the Westerdijk Institute. A key strategic goal of the project is to foster further collaboration between the Westerdijk Institute and NIOO-KNAW in studying the ecology of soil organisms.