Genetic Diversity Shaping Biotic Interactions of Plants
Agricultural productivity is the basis of human civilization and is based on healthy plants. Microorganisms can promote or damage plant health. Symbiotic microbes provide nutrients to plants, improving their health and yields, while pathogens can cause total crop failure and associated social and economic disruption. Investing in sustainable, science-based improvement in plant health is therefore essential. The LMU Munich, the TU Munich and the EKU Tübingen have invested in the number of research groups that deal with the biotic interactions of plants and have set up three internationally visible competence centers. Bringing these hotspots together creates TRR356, Genetic diversity shaping biotic interactions of plants (PlantMicrobe), with a long-term vision to improve plant health with novel genetic resources, protocols and tools.
The research strategy of TRR356 is unique and novel as it uses natural genetic variation as a source of discovery and as a tool to decipher molecular mechanisms of plant biotic interactions. The physical contact zone between host plants and infecting microbes is subject to constant molecular communication that leads to the co-evolution of infection and defense strategies. The actors that determine the outcome of this encounter - chemical signals, nutrient fluxes, macromolecules and/or toxins - are subject to evolutionary changes. The resulting diversity of genetic determinants of plant biotic interactions is a valuable resource for discovering new genes and their variants, understanding their function, and using them to improve symbiosis and pathogen defense. The revolution in genomics allows TRR356 to exploit the potential of nature's innovations. The strategic integration of a research data management project positions TRR356 excellently to manage and bioinformatically analyze the extensive data sets necessary for research into natural diversity.
Long Team Goal
Long term, TRR356 will provide knowledge and health-promoting gene variants as the basis for biotechnological strategies to improve plant health by enhancing plant nutrition via root symbionts and controlling plant diseases. TRR356 contributes to the applicability of these resources through outreach that explains the challenges of sustainable agriculture and the benefits of genome editing. TRR356 bundles and strengthens the comprehensive and complementary expertise on interactions between plants and microbes at all participating research locations and promotes plant biology as a central element within the scientific landscape of LMU, TUM and EKUT.