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SP3: RhizoMicro

Rhizosphere microbiome traits


Plants live in close relationship with a diverse community of microorganisms termed the plant microbiome. The interaction between a plant and its microbiome has great influence on plant development, growth, physiology, and health. Understanding the underlying processes is therefore of great interest for future agriculture. In the subproject RhizoMicro, we aim to elucidate functional traits of rhizosphere microbiomes and their contribution to drought tolerance and yield security of the investigated maize and wheat varieties. We hypothesize, that the quantity and composition of rhizodeposits from old landraces promote the formation of a rhizosphere microbiome with a capacity to enhance stress resistance. These selection mechanisms may have been compromised in the breeding of modern yield-optimized varieties.

 Main research questions:

  • How did the breeding of modern crop plants affect abundance, community structure and activities of rhizosphere microbiomes?
  • How can functional traits of rhizosphere microbiomes mediate drought-stress tolerance?


In RhizoTraits, we systematically compare different modern varieties and old landraces of maize and wheat with regard to their performance under drought stress. Objective of this subproject is a quantitative, structural, and functional assessment of the bacterial and fungal community within the rhizosphere microbiome. By this, we aim to identify distinctions in rhizosphere microbiomes that contribute to resilience under drought. Our findings will be linked with data on root architecture, rhizodeposition and edaphic properties generated by the other subprojects to develop a holistic understanding of the mechanisms and functions within the plant-microbe system under restricted water availability.


Microbial abundance and activities are assessed via basic indicators such as cell counts and extracellular enzymes. We utilize SSU rRNA amplicon sequencing to compare bacterial and microeukaryotic communities within the rhizosphere. For the assessment of mycorrhization we use microscopy. Functional analysis of microbe-plant interactions will include stable isotope labelling techniques in a later phase of the project.



Prof. Dr. Tillmann Lüders

University of Bayreuth
Ecological Microbiology
Dr.-Hans-Frisch-Str. 1-3
95440 Bayreuth


Nicolas Tyborski (PhD candidate)

University of Bayreuth
Ecological Microbiology
Dr.-Hans-Frisch-Str. 1-3
95440 Bayreuth




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