Microbial community

In view of the crucial role of the rhizosphere microbiota for plant performance, we aimed to obtain insights into the impact of long-term farming practices on the composition and diversity of the soil and rhizosphere microbiota and their in situ interplay with the plants at field scale. The investigated long-term farming approaches comprise:

  • Fertilization intensity (+/- fungizide, growth regulators)
  • Tillage type
  • Pre crop
  • Organic vs. conventional farming

We focus our study on the analysis of both bacterial/archaeal and fungal as well as oomycete communities from soil and rhizosphere using 16S rRNA gene and ITS amplicon sequencing. We apply state-of-the-art metagenomic sequencing in order to identify the microbial functional potential in the rhizosphere depending on the agricultural management. To gain further insight into the relationship between plants and soil microbiota, we also consider aspects of plant performance such as shoot and root growth, plant health, root exudation profiles, gene expression patterns, and yield. At field scale, root windows are used to investigate the root exudation pattern, which play a critical role in the interaction between plant and soil microorganisms.

Similarity of prokaryotic community compositions in soils differing in pre-crop, tillage practice and fertilization intensity history. (Image: JKI)