Interplay between the plant defense system and the root-associated microbiome during stress

Melissa Uribe Acosta



Melissa Uribe Acosta, MSc

PhD student at: University of Utrecht, , Plant-Microbe Interactions group

Supervisor: Prof. Corné Pieterse, Dr. Giannis Stringlis

Overall aim: The aim of this project is to characterise the role of Arabidopsis defence-related compounds on the assembly and activity of the rhizosphere and endosphere microbiome. This will be achieved by using Amplicon sequencing analysis, metabolomics of root metabolites and microbiome metagenomics/metatranscriptomics during nutrient stress and/or infection by pathogens.

Key Objectives & Expected Results


  • To assess how different plant defence components (structural or chemical) can contribute to a healthy plant phenotype when Arabidopsis plants grow in soil. Different phenotypic parameters will be studied in Arabidopsis wild type and mutant plants grown in soil under nutrient stress or pathogen attack.
  • To identify key microbes, genes and metabolites that are differentially enriched/depleted in the mutants compared to the wild type, during the (a)biotic stress.
  • To establish the  relationship between specific defence related compounds and different classes of microbes through the use of microbial synthetic communities (SynComs).

Expected Results:

  • Characterisation of the role of plant defence components in the recruitment of selected microbes during (a)biotic stress.
  • Identification of selected microbes/plant exudates/genes involved in the communication between plants and the microbiome and in the optimal plant growth during (a)biotic stress.
  • Elucidation of the mechanisms involved in the interaction between defence components and microbes using SynComs.