PhD Project description
In spite of recent advances in molecular biology and ecology, we still do not understand mechanistically how plant life history strategies are shaped by environmental factors. Here I will study how plant-soil interactions influence adaptation of these strategies. My aim is to unravel how soil development during secondary succession influences the selection of plant life history strategies. I will study natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana and how they are influenced by successional changes in biotic-abiotic soil conditions in a well-described time series of abandoned ex-arable fields. During secondary succession, the plant community shifts from pioneer to later succession species under influence of changes in both the abiotic and biotic composition of the soil. I will test the hypothesis that belowground changes contribute to adaptation of plant roots to their specific soils. Arabidopsis is a well-established molecular model plant and has many favorable characteristics. Studying sequence variation within this species will allow me to describe selection at the genetic level. Specific gene editing experiments will test and validate roles for root architecture in adaptation. In this research, I will integrate soil ecology and molecular plant biology studying genomes, expression patterns, plant-soil feedback effects and root architecture. These findings will provide fundamental knowledge on root traits of crops adapted to sustainable soil management in agriculture.
This project is a collaboration between Department of Terrestrial Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Plant Developmental Biology (Wageningen University) under the guidance of:
Prof. dr. ir. Wim van der Putten (Terrestrial Ecology - NIOO-KNAW)
Prof. dr. ir. Ben Scheres (Plant Developmental Biology - Wageningen University)
Dr. Viola Willemsen (Plant Developmental Biology - Wageningen University)