The overall goal of our research programme is to unravel 1) mechanisms involved in the assembly of plant microbiomes. The functions of microbiomes we study in detail are: 2) protection of plants and fish against diseases; and 3) promotion of plant growth, alteration of root architecture and plant chemistry.
- Microbiome assembly is studied for different crop plant species and their wild relatives grown in their native habitat and agricultural soils. How plant domestication impacts on microbiome assembly is studied by GWAS/QTL analyses and exudate profiling.
- To study microbiome-mediated protection of plants against fungal pathogens and plant parasitic weeds, natural disease suppressive soils are used as a resource to identify microbial consortia and mechanisms involved in the natural protection of plants. Adopting metagenomics/transcriptomics, we have identified consortia of different bacterial genera that play an important role in natural protection of plants against fungal root diseases. Several of the bacterial genera isolated from the rhizosphere and endosphere are studied at the biochemical, genetic and genomic level to identify genes and metabolites involved in plant protection. At the microorganism level, we study various other important traits and processes, including swarming motility, biofilm formation and defense against protozoan predation.
- How microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) affect plant development, how they modulate plant chemistry and how they support plant growth under (a)biotic stress is studied for model plant species (Arabidopsis), medicinal plants (Artemisia) and various crops important for agriculture, horticulture and the bio-based economy.