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Studying the interaction of plant morphology, plant physiology, and the root microbiome in response to a warming climate
Prof. Dr. Marcel Quint , Prof. Dr. Ivo Große , Prof. Dr. Kirsten Küsel, Prof. Dr. Christine Römermann, PD Dr. Mika Tarkka
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) ;
It is well understood how plants (P) like Arabidopsis thaliana acclimate to elevated
ambient temperatures (T) by adjusting plant architecture to ensure photosynthetic
efficiency across a range of temperatures. We are likewise beginning to understand how
root microbiomes (M) affect plant phenotypic diversity. We hypothesize that the
evolution and adaptation of plant acclimation in response to global warming occurs to a
substantial extent via the interaction with the root microbiome, which is likewise affected
by increasing soil temperatures. Our main objective is to dissect the complex interaction
of P, M, and T using natural ecotypes of A. thaliana and their corresponding root/soil
microbiomes from their native environments with different average mean temperatures
during the A. thaliana growth period. To achieve this, we will perform factorial
experiments using an orthogonal complete factorial design (ecotypes x microbiomes x
temperature) to describe plant morphological diversity, physiological parameters, and
the change within the microbial communities. We will quantify plant morphology using
an image-based automated phenotyping system. Physiological traits will be quantified
using the same system by regular PAM fluorescence and FLIR measurements of
parameters describing photosynthetic efficiency and water status, respectively. Microbial
community dynamics will be characterized via targeted amplicon sequencing. With this
approach we anticipate to begin to understand the complex interactions between P and
M in response to global warming to then use this understanding as starting point for a
future third-party funded research network. By bridging molecular to ecosystem
approaches with combined tools of plant ecology, plant physiology, microbial ecology,
and bioinformatics, we will address iDiv ́s central questions raised in Research Areas
Biodiversity Change, Molecular Biodiversity and Adaptation, and Biodiversity Complexity.

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