Does stress affect the seed microbiome?

Plants cry for help to recruit beneficial microbes to increase their resilience against stress. Stress-mediated changes in the microbiome composition are well established for plant root zones and  internal tissues. However, if these changes in the microbiome in the root and internal tissues transmite vertically to seeds to benefit the next generation is not well understood.


In this project we will explore if the soil microbial biodiversity influences the fraction of microbial pool that is recruited by roots and retained in plant seeds, in response to multigenerational stress exposure. We will perform both metabolomics and metagenomic analysis of plants exposed to multigenerational stress to identify chemical signatures of cry for help and the associated changes in microbiome composition and function, respectively.

To test whether any changes on the seed-associated microbiome prepare the next generations for stresses, we will compare the resilience of the plants that grow out of these seeds against its parent upon exposure to pathogen pressure. Understanding what determines the composition and functionality of seed microbiome will aid the production of resilient seeds and contribute to more sustainable food production.

Research aims

  • Determine microbiome composition in soil and seed under different levels of biotic stresses
  • Determine the root zone metabolite composition of plants under different levels of biotic stresses
  • Compare plant resilience against stress

Used techniques

  • Metagenomics
  • Metabolomics
  • Microbiological and molecular biology techniques