Soil is one of the most important natural resources and provider of ecosystem functions. About 90% of our food is produced directly or indirectly on soils, which underlines the importance of soil quality and fertility for crop production. Nearly all relevant soil processes are mediated by microbes and are essential for ecosystem functioning and crop productivity (Nannipieri et. al 2003). Agricultural practices, based primarily on the use of synthetic agrochemicals (fertilizers, pesticides), have increased productivity but have also altered the physicochemical and biological properties of the soil, resulting in a loss of soil function and quality. However, crop production systems should aim to maintain the soil as a vital biological system. Although microorganisms are integral to soil services, little attention has been paid to the soil microbiota in current agricultural practice. In particular, the influence of different soil types and agricultural practices on soil-microbiota interactions and soil functions is not fully understood.
The DiControl project is a part of the research program BonaRes, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and consists of 10 interdisciplinary collaborative projects. The goal of BonaRes is to expand the scientific understanding of soil ecosystems and to improve the productivity of soils and other soil functions, as well as to develop new strategies for sustainable use and management of soils. Within the BonaRes program DiControl aims to investigate the influence of long-term farming strategies on the soil microbiome and their functionality in terms of its suppressive effect against plant pathogens. Analysis of the associated rhizosphere microbiome and crop characteristics is a major focus in our studies.
- Study of the influence of intensive and extensive long-term agricultural management strategies on the structure and function of soil and rhizosphere microbiomes
- Investigation of soil and plant characteristics (e.g. metabolic profile, root exudation profiles, plant health, productivity) and their influence on soil microbiomes
- Characterization of the microbial community structures and functions using state-of-the-art molecular approaches
- Determination of suppressiveness of soils towards soil-borne pathogens under intensive and extensive agricultural management histories
- Development of management strategies that support microbial taxa and functions responsible for the suppression of pathogens
- Evaluation of the use of a beneficial microbial consortium on plant growth/health and microbial community composition in root affected soil and rhizosphere