Engineering the plant microbiome to improve crop quality and yield

by Valeria Verrone

16:00 (40 min) in USB 4.005

New approaches are required to meet the demand for an increased global food supply that do not harm the environment and are produced in a sustainable fashion. This study proposes to examine how the microorganisms associated with plants, the plant microbiome, can be engineered to improve crop quality and yield using synthetic biology approaches. The overall aim of the project is to contribute to an alternative and more sustainable future for agriculture.

The methodology used in this study is based on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing approach, which is increasingly being adopted in microbiology due to its ability to allow the genetic manipulation of previously genetically intractable organisms. We are applying the technique to modify the genomes of plant growth-promoting rhizobaceria and also the metagenome of the rhizosphere community in order to obtain a synthetic bacterial consortium with improved capabilities of promotion of disease resistance or resource utilization in the partner crop. As a result, we also hope to gain a broader understanding of the interactions occurring between bacteria and plants in this complex environment.