MICROWILD - DECIPHERING THE MICROBIOME ASSOCIATED
WITH THE ORIGINS OF AGRICULTURE
We aim to address how domestication has changed the plant microbiome of major crops. This knowledge is needed to optimize the interactions between plants and microbial communities occurring in the rhizosphere, which is crucial to increase global food production. MICROWILD is funded with a grant from Fundación BBVA.
Our main objectives are:
1) To identify the core microbiome of crop wild progenitors.
We are coordinating an international consortium to sample the wild progenitors of 10 major crops in their native sites of distribution in the Fertile Crescent, Meso and South America, the Sahel, and South East Asia. Project collaborators are sampling multiple (10-15) populations along a climatic/edaphic gradient for each crop wild progenitor.
So far, populations of the wild progenitors of maize, soya, sunflower, potato, bean and cotton have been sampled (see map below), and more species are on its way:
2) To compare the filtering of microbial communities in the rhizosphere from the microbial pool available in the bulk soil in wild progenitors vs. modern crops.
We have partnered with the Global Crop Microbiome and Sustainable Agriculture coordinated by Brajesh Singh and Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo to compare the rhizosphere microbial communities of five major crops (cotton, potato, maize, wheat and rice) with that of their wild progenitors. To do that, both ongoing projects are following the same sampling protocol and soils will be sequenced in the same lab.
3) To address the plant traits driving the differences in the microbiome of wild progenitors vs. modern crops and the consequences for crop production.
Pot experiments will be performed at our greenhouse facilities using seeds and soils from wild progenitors and modern crops. Beyond sequencing the plant microbiome (rhizosphere, endosphere and phyllosphere), multiple plant traits (leaf and root) and crop production will be measured.