Agricultural sustainability can be achieved through the reduction of fertilizers. When exposed to nutrient limitations, such as phosphate starvation, plants are able to recruit specific microbes. This ability strongly relies on the plant genome which shows great variation among varieties even of the same species. With the final aim of identifying genes, alleles and their impact in molecular processes regulating microbe-induced plant resilience to phosphate starvation, the PhD student will be involved in phenotyping 134 fully sequenced Lactuca sativa varieties. Plants will be grown under phosphate starvation with microbial biostimulants at the private greenhouse of the industrial project partner. We will study metabolic and growth effects and, through genome-wide association studies, their associations with the plant genotypes. Understanding the plant genetic variations mediating the microbe-inducible plant growth effects is a necessary step towards a much-needed new green revolution.
The PhD project will be supervised by Dr. Marco Giovannetti, an expert in plant nutrition, mycorrhizal symbiosis, and GWAS, and Dr. Enrica Calura, an expert in transcriptomics, gene network, and bioinformatics. An industrial partner (gambaro.green/) will be available for setting up the growing conditions and evaluating the plant performances in their greenhouses.
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