Supervision: The project will be supervised by Ruben Garrido-Oter at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

Abstract: Land plants recruit and associate with complex and stable microbial communities derived from soil. Members of these communities, collectively referred to as the plant microbiota establish metabolic interdependencies with one another and collectively impact host growth and health (1-3). A synthesis of metagenome and amplicon sequencing data from multiple studies provides strong evidence for the presence of conserved features and common taxonomic groups, called the core microbiota, which are found in association with plants irrespective of the soil type or host species. In addition, it is known that phototrophic microorganisms such as green algae can interact mutualistically with bacteria belonging to the same taxonomic groups (e.g. Rhizobium species), suggesting a conserved and possibly ancestral ability of plant cells to associate with soil-borne bacteria. Nevertheless, it is currently unknown to what extent soil-borne green algae can assemble and interact with stable microbial consortia. The aim of this project is to use the eukaryotic, photosynthetic model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a soil-borne green alga with a wealth available molecular, genetic and genomic tools, to build stable synthetic consortia. This system will be employed to study fundamental principles governing interactions between photosynthetic organisms and their associated microbial communities.

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(1) Hacquard, S., Spaepen, S., Garrido‐ Oter R. and Schulze ‐Lefert, P. Interplay between innate immunity and the plant microbiota. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. (2017).

(2) Durán, P., Thiergart, T., Garrido-Oter, R., Agler, M., Kemen, E., Schulze-Lefert, P., Hacquard, S. Microbial interkingdom interactions in roots promote Arabidopsis survival. Cell (2018).

(3) Garrido-Oter, R., Nakano, T. R., Dombrowski, N., Ma, K., The AgBiome Team, McHardy, A. C. and Schulze-Lefert, P. Modular Traits of the Rhizobiales Root Microbiota and Their Evolutionary Relationship with Symbiotic Rhizobia. Cell Host & Microbe (2018).

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