Identifying host genetic factors shaping rhizosphere microbiome during root disease


Legumes play an important role in the diversification and sustainability of agriculture. Peas are a valuable legume crop as they contribute to meeting the growing demand for plant protein worldwide. However, recent removal of chemical seed treatments has made the crop vulnerable to root diseases. Root rots, caused by fungal and oomycete pathogens, can result in stunted growth, reduced yields, and lower crop quality. To tackle this challenge, this PhD project is being offered that aims to understand (i) how root rot pathogens influence composition of the root exudates and subsequently shape the soil microbiome and (ii) what are the host genetic factors associated with changes in the rhizosphere microbiome induced by the pathogen. By combining cutting-edge techniques in genetics, metagenomics, and metabolomics, the project aims to develop strategies that use host genetics to promote beneficial microbial populations and makes it resilient against stress.

The project will be led by Dr. Sanu Arora with co-supervision from Dr. Jacob Malone and in collaboration with Elsoms Seeds. The successful candidate will receive training in plant pathology and genetics, metagenomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics and will join an international and collaborative team.

1] Bollmann-Giolai et al., Diversity, detection and exploitation: linking soil fungi and plant disease. Curr. Opin.

Microbiol. 2022;70:102199

[2] Hossain et al., Root rot alters the root-associated microbiome of field pea in commercial crop production systems. Plant Soil. 2021;460(1):593-607.

[3] Korenblum et al., Rhizosphere microbiome mediates systemic root metabolite exudation by root-to-root signaling. PNAS. 2020;117(7): 3874–3883.

[4] Martinez et al., Identifying plant genes shaping microbiota composition in the barley rhizosphere. Nat. Commun.