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Improved soil fungi aids sustainable agriculture

Symbiotic soil fungi play an important role in sustainable agriculture, but commercially available fungi are of variable quality. An EU-funded research partnership investigated genetic markers to produce a consistently high standard of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) for the agricultural and other sectors.
Improved soil fungi aids sustainable agriculture
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are soil fungi that form symbioses with many different plants, and they are increasingly useful for commercial agriculture. AMF-plant symbiosis results in improved production capacity, healthier food and feed crops, and better soil quality. However, the usefulness of AMF is limited by a high genetic diversity, which leads to variable effectiveness.

The AGRO-AMF-AOX (A functional marker of commercial AMF isolates for sustainable agriculture) project investigated the suitability of AM AOX gene polymorphisms as markers for the functional integrity of AMF isolates.

Researchers used the alternative oxidase (AOX) gene family to study genetic variations that could have an effect on how useful AMF are for agriculture. A unique AOX was identified and research indicated that several genetic variations exist in the gene that may be important for function.

In addition, a method was developed to propagate AMF in the laboratory for the first time, which will help with future research and production. Further work was conducted into whether changes in AOX may affect the morphology and function of AMF.

AGRO-AMF-AOX has paved the way towards better and more consistent AMF quality by developing an essential tool for measuring AMF functionality and the efficiency of its application. The project partners successfully defined novel requirements for phenotyping tools that can predict the effect of AMF treatments on plant growth performance.

The project’s results will be applicable to both fundamental and applied research and ultimately contribute towards a more sustainable form of agriculture.

Related information

Keywords

Genetic markers, Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, symbiosis, genetic diversity, AGRO-AMF-AOX, functional marker, gene polymorphism, alternative oxidase
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