Allelic variants underlying fitness in different biotic environments
Chemical communication via small compounds (specialized metabolites) is the main route for plants to actively interact with their immediate surroundings. Understanding how microorganisms perceive and respond to specific plant-derived chemical cues, and how metabolite-mediated restructuring of microbial communities affects the ecology of plant-plant interactions, is one of our scientific goals. Within this project, we are using how genetic diversity in A. thaliana to identify alleles that control the phenotypic outcome of microbial restructuring in the context of plant-plant interactions mediated by benzoxazinoid compounds.
To do so, we grew maize, and a benzoxazinoid -synthesis mutants in field soil, to create two distinct biotic environments from a single soil. From this we acquired a rich phenotypic dataset containing detailed phenotypes of more than 400 A. thaliana inbred lines to map genetic loci that control plant growth in these soils. We then mapped genetic variants correlated to soil-history specific growth in a genome-wide association study and are now investigating the genetic variation at candidate loci.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Niklas Schandry, Institute of Genetics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich