Cry for help: stress-induced microbiome recruitment across the plant kingdom

Work package 1: We will study the evolution of plant-recruited root microbiomes across the plant kingdom. With precision-based methods, we will analyse the root microbiome dynamics and plant response and performance of 100 wild and cultivated plant species - related to the five most important food crop families – grown under four major types of stress: nutrient deficiency, drought, pathogen infection and herbivory. This quantitative phylogenetic approach will allow us to obtain a deep evolutionary understanding of stress-induced recruitment by plants of their root-associated microbiota, and the functions that the microbiome provides to the plant under different environmental stress conditions. It will also give insight into the extent by which cultivated crop species have lost these co-evolved microbial benefits, and how to harness identified plant traits and microbial functions in future crop systems.

Different model plants and their interaction with soil microbes, schematic