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Diversity and beneficial properties of bacterial endophytes of arctic plants


Arctic and semiarctic ecosystems cover 22% of the earth's terrestrial surface. These environments are very sensitive to disturbance, and are likely to be deeply affected by the climate change. At the same time, arctic microbiology has identified diverse communities of bacteria adapted to low temperatures, and arctic microbiota has been recognized as an untapped resource for sustainable industrial, agricultural and pharmaceutical applications. Unfortunately, the research on microbial diversity in cold climates has not included endophytic bacteria of arctic plants. The diversity and role of endophytic bacteria in arcto-alpine ecosystems is virtually unknown, even though many important traits of arctic plants, such as cold tolerance, effective uptake and processing of nutrients, and resistance to pathogens and pollutants could be associated with endophytes. This project will explore the diversity of endophytic bacteria arctic plant species, and traits of endophytic bacteria with potential ecological role and applicational value by (1) Isolation of endobacterial communities from arctic plants, (2) Characterization of endobacterial community diversity by molecular methods (DGGE, clone libraries) and by endophyte isolation, and, (3) Screening for beneficial traits, like production or modulation of phytohormones, antagonism, nutrient mobilization and production of cold-active enzymes. The project will provide high-quality, novel data on an as yet completely uncharacterized aspect of arctic and subarctic biodiversity. It will broaden our understanding of plant adaptation to arctic environments and the role of endophytes therein. Additionally, the project will produce a collection of endophytic bacteria adapted to arctic conditions, that can be valuable in agriculture, forestry and in sustainable industrial applications. The fellowship will also enable the re-integration into science of the researcher, who is returning from child-care leave.

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Broerstraat 5
9712CP Groningen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 230 249,73
Administrative Contact
Jan Dirk Van Elsas (Prof.)