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Internship - Managing soils to improve aboveground pest control in Chrysanthemum crops

Internship - Managing soils to improve aboveground pest control in Chrysanthemum crops

Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Netherlands

 

Soil microbiomes may be the key for a new green revolution in agroecosystems. Researchers are now showing that soil microbiomes can be a powerful tool to enhance plant health. But can they also promote aboveground insect pest control?

Soils harbor an astonishing diversity of microbes, the so-called microbiome with multiple effects on plants, some of them essential functions for plant survival. What is even more fascinating is soil microbes can also affect herbivores and even their natural enemies aboveground through several plant mechanisms. A key question is: how can we manage soil microbiomes to reduce pest incidence on aboveground tissues?

In this project we are exploring the potential of plant-soil feedbacks (PSF) to answer this question. Plant-soil feedback is an ecological concept, whereby one plant modifies the soil, affecting plant growing later in that soil. Humans have used PSF for centuries during crop rotations. Here we aim by using PSF, to create microbial inocula that can induce resistance and improve biocontrol of the main greenhouse pests. Chysanthemum is one of the major crops in The Netherlands, and production is seriously threatened by insect pests. Since soil is frequently sterilized, it offers a unique opportunity to introduce beneficial soil microbes.

We use different methodologies to answer diverse types of questions, from mechanistic to more applied and fundamental. During you internship or MSc thesis you can work with different herbivorous insects and their main natural enemies used in biocontrol. We develop experiments in the lab, in the greenhouse at NIOO, and in commercial greenhouses. We are interested to evaluate the behavior and development of both plant and herbivores, and to characterize the soil microbial communities through amplicon DNA sequencing. Other objectives include chemical analysis from defensive compounds and primary chemistry. This project is a collaboration between NIOO, the biocontrol company Biobest, Chrysanthemum growers, and Wageningen University (PPO-Bleiswijk).

 

More information to be found here

 

Location: 
Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NL
Deadline: 
28/02/2017

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