Research Project / Research Group Description
The increasing population, the ongoing rise in fertilizer s price, and the unpredictable climate change will negatively hit crop growth and productivity and food security.
Thus we have to develop a more sustainable, cost-efficient, environmental-friendly agriculture to increase crop production proportionally with market and society demands.
Modern agriculture uses large amounts of phosphate (Pi)-rich fertilizers to increase plant production. However, this is both ecologically detrimental and financially unsustainable due to Pi natural sources reduction and its rising price.
The root system is responsible for uptake of water and nutrients as well as the soil microbiota interaction. Global climate change will strengthen the negative effect of abiotic stresses such as extreme temperatures, drought, salinity, and nutrient assimilation.
When high temperatures compromised water and nutrient availability, the consequences for growth and crop production can be dramatic.
For simplicity, many roots studies, including phenotyping, were done in vitro, in walk-in chambers or in greenhouses grown plants.
The advantage of using these close-environments is the fine-tune control of growing conditions (temperature, soil salinity, nutrient, etc).
However, these conditions have been mainly optimized for the aerial part of the plant. Conversely, less attention has been paid to the soil-root-microbiome environmental conditions , especially in experiments involving heat stress, where the soil reached abnormal high temperatures (similar to the atmosphere).
However, in the field, the temperature surrounding roots and microbes is lower because the buffer capacity of the soil .
We have engineered a novel device, Cooling-Root, to generate temperature gradient in the soil of plant growing in vitro or in the greenhouse .
This will facilitate the analyses of warming and will allow to identify new and unpredictable genes, microbes or metabolites involved in plant adaptation to high temperatures.
Job position description
Warming experiments in the greenhouse or in vitro have not considered that the root system is not normally exposed to high temperatures since the soil acts as a buffer and generates a gradient.
Thus, to have accurate data of plant nutrition and gene response to warming temperatures, the root system should be analyzed in a temperature gradient condition.
We truly believe that the use of our novel C®oot device will provide a perfect experimental set up to carry out this novel and challenging climate-microbiome-Pi studies.
The researcher will be involved :
These analyses are aimed at identifying novel pathways that connect Pi starvation with heat and salinity a as well as with positive microbiome interaction.
These new fungus could be use as bio-solutions in agriculture.
Connected with this, he / she will analyze the small RNA production in root-associated fungus and its effects on gene silencing in the plant genome
GROUP LEADER : Prof. Juan Carlos del Pozo
REGULATION OF LATERAL ROOT DEVELOPMENT DURING NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES