European research council (ERC) awarded an ERC advanced grant to Paul Schulze-Lefert
Paul Schulze-Lefert, Director of the Department of Plant-Microbe Interactions at the Max Planck Institute for plant breeding research in Cologne was awarded an ERC advanced grant from the European research council (ERC) to study the structure, function and evolution of plant root-inhabiting bacterial communities. These bacterial communities, also called root microbiota, are selected by plant roots from the surrounding soil biome. Preliminary evidence suggests that root microbiota members promote both plant growth and plant health. The former beneficial function is likely mediated by the mobilization of soil-borne nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate for uptake by plant roots. The latter function is thought to be mediated by microbiota members that provide indirect protection against colonization by soil-born microbial plant pathogens, including fungi. “The importance of root microbiota for plant growth and plant health has been recognized only recently", says Schulze-Lefert. "We are glad that the ERC advanced grant gives us the opportunity to systematically explore this emerging research area.” The research funds are initially awarded for a period of five years.