Plant roots are colonized by vast amounts of microorganisms, of which many facilitate plant growth.
It has been long-time known that various microbial strains from the rhizosphere exert plant growth promoting effects in specific biotic and abiotic environments. The underlying mechanisms of plant growth promotion can have several causes: it can occur through protection against pathogens, pests or harsh abiotic environments, through the facilitation of nutrient uptake or through an effect on plant hormone levels and signaling. The use of cultivation independent deep-sequencing technologies has shown that the known plant growth promoting microorganisms are only a glance of the microbial community acting in the rhizo- and endosphere. Hence, there is a high potential of identifying new biologicals to boost plant growth in various abiotic and biotic environments by the systematic analysis of rhizosphere samples using the available new technologies.
We aim at discovering new plant growth promoting bacteria and identify the plant molecular networks on which they impinge to boost plant growth and yield. Using transcriptomic and proteomic approaches together with functional analysis, in Arabidopsis thaliana but importantly also in maize and wheat, we visualize these networks and identify important signaling hubs and markers that will be used to establish bacterial inoculants consisting of multiple bacteria that exert additive effects on yield. These can then be used as inoculants for maize and wheat crops in order to increase yield while reducing the use of chemical fertilizer or pesticides.