Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) is probably the most important terrestrial symbiosis. AM fungi (AMF) supply the majority of land plants with nutrients and confer resistance against various stresses. Therefore, their exploitation is of high environmental relevance and economic value. Although demanded for safer food production, mass-production of AMF inoculum is still prone to contamination, and AMF cannot be traced in the field. Consequently, quality control is problematic and traceability in the agro-environment impossible.
Our objective is to overcome the two major limitations of broad-scale exploitation of AMF,
(1) Production of high quality inoculum - by developing bioreactor-cultivation and molecular identification tools as quality control system for AMF inoculum,
(2) Ascertainment of plant-beneficial effects - by developing in-field molecular tracing tools, phylochips (taxonomic DNA micro-arrays).
TRACEAM joins leading experts' knowledge about key technologies for AM research, as there are:
1) ROC system as t he most advanced culture system, which will be the platform for development of bioreactors and molecular tools,
2) DNA barcodes as identification tools based on specific sequences, which will constitute the base for the molecular identification of AMF, and also for quality control,
3) DNA microarrays ('phylochips') construction (based on 5-10 'standard genes'), which will allow the detection of the active AMF community in the field,
4) the obligate symbiotic endobacteria (>400 myr old 'integral component s' of AMF), which will be traced by phylochips to elucidate their role as targets for tracing and other (e.g. plant nutrition) aspects.
Four PhD students will be hosted in institutes in Germany, Belgium, France and Italy, leading in the field of AM research. They get offered an intense, high quality, international training program including long-term visits in the participants' laboratories, three summer schools, and participation at international congresses.
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