Effects and dynamics of the root-microbiome of halophytic plants under changing environmental conditions

Current projects

Plant-microbe associations harbor multiple beneficial effects for both the plants and associated microbiota. Such associations are also recognized for halophytic plants and suggested to help the plants to sustain the stressful environment. However, much in this association is still unknown with limited information on the bi-directional influence of the plant and its microbiome, as studies often focus on either the plant or the microbiota.

Aims: In this PhD project, we will test the hypothesis that besides the halophytic plant’s inherent ability to acclimate to extreme conditions, the associated microbial community is vital for the plant’s success in a high-salt and low-nutrient environment. The project aims to reveal the microbiome of halophytes, the effects of plant-microbiota association on the plant’s performance under different stress situations, and the interaction modes between the plant and its microbiota.

Approach: We will focus on halophytic plants that inhabit saline soils in Eastern Austria.  The plant-associated microbiome and its effect on plant performance will be investigated using amplicon-based and metagenome/metatranscriptome sequencing combined with plant-phenotyping and analysis of the plant’s secretion metabolism using mass spectrometry.

Relevance: This PhD project will reveal the interactions within the halophyte-microbe association and the benefits for host plants. As salinities of soils are predicted to rise, knowledge on beneficial microbes is of particular importance for meeting the challenge of land use under saline conditions.

Faculty: Woebken (PI), Wienkoop (co-PI), Rattei

Funding: FWF doc.fund project MAINTAIN


Selected Publications:

Berendsen, R. L., Pieterse, C. M. J. & Bakker, P. A. H. M. The rhizosphere microbiome and plant health. Trends Plant Sci. 17, 478–486 (2012).

Yuan, Z., Druzhinina, I. S., Labbé, J., Redman, R., Qin, Y., Rodriguez, R., Zhang, C., Tuskan, G. A. & Lin, F. Specialized Microbiome of a Halophyte and its Role in Helping Non-Host Plants to Withstand Salinity. Sci. Rep. 6, 32467 (2016).