FWF - Indoor - Plant-associated microbial communities in indoor environment

Project: Research project

Description

Despite the fact that we spend the majority of our lifetime indoors, our knowledge about our microbial co-residents and their effect on our health is still very limited. Recently a paradigmatic change happened towards our view onto the microbial world: whereas previously the research focus was set on germs, nowadays we know that microbes harbor an impressive diversity and important functions for human beings and the environment. Albeit beneficial health-promoting effects of house plants were described previously, the structure and function of their microbiome – the community of all microbes in a defined environment, is still unknown. Since more microbes live in and on house plants than people on the whole planet, we think that these microbes do not only have a direct impact on plant health, but also affect human health in an indirect manner. To comprehend the microbiology of our house plants, we will investigate on the one hand selected house plants grown under controlled conditions of greenhouses in the Botanical Garden Graz, and on the other hand we will explore house plants in more typical settings. By means of a library of specific biomarkers, correlation and network analyses, all complemented with microscopy, we will determine and compare the impact of different environmental factors onto the microbiome as well as its internal interactions. In order to reveal functions of the phyllosphere microbiome (all plant leaf associated microbes), we will study the genome content of three selected microbial communities in greater detail. Additional experiments will analyze characteristics of isolated microbes from plant leaves for plant health and will select most promising candidates for further studies. Hereby we want to design a targeted selection of beneficial microbes for healthy house plants. Further on, microbes of this assortment will be labeled and additionally investigated with special fluorescence probes to reveal microbial dispersal and its effects onto the microbiome in an indoor environment. Finally, the structural and functional stability of this model microbiome will be assessed under different environmental conditions. All results will be comparatively evaluated and our findings will give new insights into the relevance of microbiomes on house plants inside indoor environments.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/10/1631/08/20