News & Views
Grants to Support Microbiome Research
Oct 14 2018 Read 812 Times
Dundee scientist Dr David Bulgarelli has been awarded two research grants each exceeding £620,000 from the European Commission and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), to study the interaction between plants and soil microbes, with the ultimate aim of boosting sustainable food production
Dr Bulgarelli, a principle investigator at the Division of Plant science based at the James Hutton Institute, will participate in a Horizon 2020 research programme coordinated by the University of Bologna, involving 29 partners from 14 European countries. The project aims to develop microbiome-based applications for food production across several food chains and will see academics work with SMEs and other stakeholders to expedite the translational application of research discoveries.
“One of the most pressing questions for this research area is how to rationally predict the outcome of plant-microbiome interactions under agriculture-relevant conditions,” said Dr Bulgarelli. “The cross-Europe consortium has the expertise and resource to address this question and I look forward to validating, under these conditions, discoveries we made in the lab in the last few years.”
The second award will see Dr Bulgarelli explore the causal genetic variants that underpin differential bacterial recruitment in the plant rhizosphere, the thin layer of soil surrounding plant roots. “For many years we have known plants can shape the microbial communities surrounding their roots but the genes underpinning these interactions, in particular for crop plants, remain poorly understood,” he explained.
“We recently discovered a portion of the genomes of barley, a global crop, modulating the assembly of several bacteria in the rhizosphere. In this research we will use state-of-the art experimental and computational approaches to characterise the plant genes present on this portion of the barley genome."
The proposal will involve also Professors Robbie Waugh, from Plant Sciences, and Geoff Barton, Head of Computational Biology, bringing together research fields such as metagenomics and plant genetics to generate complex, multidimensional data. Three postdoctoral positions and one technical assistant position will also be created at Dundee’s School of Life Sciences as a result of these awards.
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