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Patterned microfluidic sheets for studies of root exudation profiles

Project description

Patterned microfluidic sheets control association between plant roots and beneficial microbes

Traditional fertilisers, which package soluble mineral elements into granules, are easily acquired by plant roots, but leach into the environment causing pollution. Slow-release fertilisation decreases the diffusion of nutrients to the soil but affects its uptake by the root. While biological fertilisation is inspired by mechanisms observed in soil, maintaining efficient colonisation of the root by beneficial microbes is difficult. The EU-funded RhizoSheet project will address these challenges, using cutting-edge microfluidic based hybrid paper-polymer technology for device fabrication to observe and control the association between plants and beneficial microbes. Optical sensors and novel functional materials will be employed as biochemical sensors to understand the location of compounds secreted by roots over time when they interact with soil microbes.

Objective

Modern plant varieties have been bred to grow and increase production under non limiting soil conditions and have consequently lost their ability to capture resources efficiently. Designing an efficient fertiliser requires optimising bioavailability and mobility of nutrients. Unfortunately, bio-availability and mobility are often antagonistic.

Traditional fertilisers, which package soluble mineral elements into granules, are easily acquired by plant roots but have been linked to excessive loss to the environment and pollution. Slow release fertilisation has been proposed to slow down the diffusion of nutrients to the soil, including the use of nanotechnology, but slowing down the diffusion of nutrients excessively affects root uptake. Biological fertilisation is inspired from known mechanisms observed in soil, but maintaining efficient colonisation of the root by beneficial microbes is challenging.

New approaches must be developed to better control the associations taking place between plants and beneficial microbes, since fundamental knowledge to achieve this target is nowadays lacking. Roots exude a huge diversity of biomolecules, and their role in maintaining adequate beneficial microbes are mostly unknown and rarely studied.

The aim of the RhizoSheet project is to apply cutting-edge microfluidic techniques based on hybrid paper-polymer technology for device fabrication. Optical sensors and novel functional materials will be applied as biochemical sensors to gain knowledge on the location of compounds secreted by roots and on the response of roots over time, when interacting with soil microbes.

The acquired knowledge will be highly beneficial for the scientific and agricultural community and finds the interest of the EU in soil and food safety, the RhizoSheet project meets the interest of the Horizon Europe - the next research and innovation framework programme in particular the natural resources in Pillar 1.

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Coordinator

UNIVERSIDAD DEL PAIS VASCO/ EUSKAL HERRIKO UNIBERTSITATEA
Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
Address
Barrio sarriena s n
48940 Leioa
Spain

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Region
Noreste País Vasco Bizkaia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00