Host-Microbe Interactions in Plant Sciences
Plant Sciences' contribution to the Host-Microbe Interactions research theme is to dissect how microorganisms and microbiomes interact with the plant host and the insects on those plants, and how these insights may be harnessed to improve plant growth and health, by steering microbiome composition and in part by plant genome editing.
The success of plants is strongly determined by their interaction with the soil microbial community. Likewise the composition of the soil microbial community is strongly determined by the plants growing in a soil. Plants leave a legacy in the soil through this effect. In this research line we examine how plants influence the microbiome in the soil in which they grow, and how these changes influence other plants that grow later in the soil, and the insects on those plants. We examine the connection and role of microbiomes in soils, plants and aboveground insects, and study how to manipulate the soil microbial community to increase plant resistance to above ground herbivores, to increase plant production. In natural ecosystems such as grasslands and heathlands, we study how we can steer the composition of soil communities with soil inoculation to enhance the biodiversity and functioning of these ecosystems and to restore degraded ecosystems.
For many generations the Netherlands has a world leading position in classic plant breeding. The obvious disadvantage of classic breeding is that it takes a very long time to get the results that are wanted. To keep the leading position in plant breeding and to be able to create the plants that meet the demands of the future, novel strategies for plant genome modification are needed. Within the Plant Sciences cluster fundamental knowledge on plant genome editing is generated by (i) the “Agrobacterium” research that studies plant-microbe interaction, and (ii) the DNA repair research both with important applications in biotechnology, and the latter also with important applications in relation to health related topics.