Plant Genetics (Parniske 1)

Department / Institute
Faculty of Biology
Subject area
Plant Genetics
Project title
The impact of plant antibiotic metabolites and bacterial multidrug resistance genes on the root microbiota composition
Name of supervisor
Prof. Martin Parniske
Number of open positions
Language requirements
Proficiency in English
Academic requirements
4-year Bachelor's plus Master's Degree; at the time of application, the last final exam should have taken place in the past 4 years.
Study model
Full doctoral study model: 36 or 48 months

Project description

Plant species differ widely in the chemical spectrum of phytochemicals with antimicrobial properties (“antibiotics”) they produce. This may be one of the reasons why soil bacteria are a major reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes. This project aims to explore to what extend such resistance genes contribute to bacterial survival and competitiveness in and on toxin-producing roots. To this end, we will identify a) toxic compounds from root exudates in collaboration with experts in plant metabolite analysis and chemistry and b) bacterial resistance genes that protect against these. To determine the impact of specific compounds with antibiotic activity on the root microbiome composition, the project will, among other tools, employ plant mutants defective for their biosynthesis. On the bacterial side, we will study the contribution of bacterial multidrug resistance (MDR) genes to increased resistance against specific plant-derived toxins and thus to successful root colonization and competition with other microbiota. We aim to determine whether specific antibiotic compounds within the host root exudate in combination with cognate bacterial antibiotic resistance genes determine not only microbial survival in the rhizosphere but also contribute the host specificity of the legume-rhizobium symbiosis. The knowledge gained in this project will help informed selection of plant beneficial bacterial inoculants for sustainable agricultural practices.

For further information, please contact Prof. Parniske:

Research group website

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