Congolese Serendipita: a strong tool for sustainable intensification of agriculture

01 November 2020 → 05 September 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biological control
    • Environmental plant biotechnology
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Agricultural plant protection
    • Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture Biostimulantia/Biocontrol Plant growth promoting endophytes
Project description

Modern day agriculture is using an excessive amount of fertilizers and pesticides in pursuance of reducing crop losses by scarcity of essential nutrients or activity of pathogens. Since they have deleterious features and are unaffordable for small-scale farmers from the developing world, the demand for sustainable alternatives reaches a maximum. In this project, we will focus on the promising broad-host endophyt Serendipita, which has been proven to mimic plant promoting capabilities of AMF. In contrast with AMF, Serendipita is able to colonize roots independent of the phosphorus level and lacks the obligate biotrophic character, which facilitates cultivation and inoculum propagation. Despite these benefits, their mode of action remains undescribed. Based on a unique Congolese Serendipita collection (UGent), and an earlier indication that VOCs play a role, this study aims to unravel and analyze the genome in a search for a variation of genes/clusters involved in biocontrol/biostimulation processes, making use of bioinformatical tools, RNA sequencing and RT-qPCR. Uncovered genetic determinants will be used to investigate the contribution of Serendipita in common (a)biotic plant stress response and African field trials. In parallel, intensive PTR-TOF-MS based VOC study will be conducted and linked to genetics. Altogether, this study expects to clarify the mode of action of Serendipita spp. in plant growth promotion/biocontrol with a view to future applications.