This project will determine how the microbiome of productive plant ecosystems contributes to disease control outcomes. We will also determine the genetic and chemical basis of these interactions, with a particular focus on the discovery of novel and indigenous taxa and functions that can be harnessed for Bioprotection outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand.
It is increasingly evident that the microbiota of plants (phytobiome) plays a crucial role in plant disease dynamics and that agricultural practices can directly impact the microbiota and/or alter its protective benefits. We have a limited understanding of the underpinning mechanisms (changes in microbial community membership and function) that support these protective benefits.
In particular, our ability to understand and predict interactions among microorganisms, and between the plant and its microbiome, is limited because of a lack of fundamental knowledge that links the key taxa involved, their associated genetic and physiological mechanisms, and the ecology of interactions leading to disease expression or suppression. This is particularly important information for Pou 1 (Titirangi) and Pou 3 (Nuku-a-rangi).