The success of any agricultural system and sustainable production depends on the health of its plants. Pests and pathogens are responsible for the loss of almost one-third of the global crop production. However, microorganisms found in and on plants are not always the cause of disease. Instead, the naturally occurring microbial communities, the plant’s microbiome, play an essential role in the development of healthy plants. This project is based on a hypothesis-driven approach to address fundamental questions about the plant microbiome such as What is the source of a plant’s microbiome? What are the pathways of inheritance and acquisition? How does the microbiome move, disseminate, and enter a new host? Apple was selected as a plant model; a fruit that has been a principal component of a healthy diet, and played a major role in human evolution and survival. The proposed methodology employs cutting-edge and multidisciplinary techniques such as metagenomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics, among others. Results of this project will help to understand the microbiome’s life cycle, associate microbes with specific organs and tissues, and identify microbial species that define a healthy host with healthy organs and offspring. From there, it will be easy to determine changes, understand disease and disorders, and find ways to correct unbalanced microbiomes. Identifying how the microbes are acquired and to which organs and tissues they are associated with, will help in understanding the optimal methods to introduce microbial species to the host. While the proposed approaches are novel, once the validity of the hypotheses is proven, they will serve as a foundation for future microbiome studies. These studies will drive the development and implementation of safe, environmentally-friendly strategies for global agriculture production. These innovations in the management of plant health have myriad positive and far-reaching implications for environmental and human health.
|Effective start/end date||7/10/19 → 30/09/21|