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Roots of decline? Assembly and Function of the Rhizosphere Microbiome in Relation to Yield Decline


  bbsrc hands nerc  

BBSRC and NERC are working together, with partners, to fund three new initiatives to improve our understanding of soils, which are key to tackling many of today's global challenges, including food, water, energy security and climate change. One of these initiatives is the Global Food Security 'Soil and Rhizosphere Interactions for Sustainable Agri-ecosystems' (SARISA) programme. Four research projects, with a collective valueof £5M, have been funded to investigate the interactions between soil and the communities of microbes that live in close association with plant roots. Dr Gary Bending’s project is one of the funded projects which will use advanced genetic sequencing methods to derive new understanding of the factors which shape the composition of the rhizosphere microbial community (i.e. its 'microbiome'), and its consequences for crop growth.

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Using field crops of oilseed rape as a model system we will determine the roles of soil biodiversity, local climate, soil properties, rotation, genotypeand geographical distance in shaping the rhizosphere microbiome.

The project will identify shifts in microbial composition and both microbial and plant gene expression associated with a change from a healthy to a diseased rhizosphere. We will use this data to investigate the potential to manipulate recruitment of detrimental and beneficial soil biota into the rhizosphere microbiome in order to promote crop growth and yield.​

Importantly, the work will be conducted in the field, using commercial crops of OSR, so that the results of the work will have immediate agronomic relevance. In addition to providing fundamental new understanding of rhizosphere biology, we will derive specific understanding of yield decline in oilseed rape.

For more information please contact Dr. Gary Bending, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL
Telephone +44 (0)2476 575057 Email 



UoW   rothamsted research   CEH

Gary Bending (Principal Investigator)
Jonathan (Jay) Moore
Graham Teakle
Sally Hilton

  Penny Hirsch
Ian Clark
Tim Mauchline
Susanne Schreiter
  Chris van der Gast
NHM   HAU   Velcourt
David Bass   Peter Mills   Keith Norman