Ecology of rhizosphere bacteria
Plant roots are colonized by specific bacterial communities that provide various services to the host plant. Fluorescent pseudomonads are ubiquitous rhizosphere colonizers, and have been extensively investigated due to their ability to inhibit plant pathogens. They could thus be used as biological control agent of plant diseases in replacement to conventional agrochemical. Pseudomonads are also a convenient model to investigate ecological processes thanks to their ease to grow and modify, and the large amount of data available on their genetics and physiology. We use Pseudomonas fluorescens as model organism to investigate the following aspects:
- Biocontrol bacteria in grasslands: We investigate the role of plant diversity on the abundance, structure and plant protective ability of Pseudomonads communities in grasslands.
- Plant bacteria interactions: We investigate the effect of the host plant and pathogen infection on the structure and activity of biocontrol pseudomonads.
- Predator- Prey interactions: We use a Pseudomonas fluorescens – Tetrahymena thermophila model system to investigate the role of bacterial toxins on predation strength, bacterial fitness and the stability of foodwebs.
- Effect of biodiversity on Ecosystem functioning: We use artificial communities of Pseudomonas fluorescens to follow the role of biodiversity on important processes like community performance, invasibility, cooperation and the ability to protect plant roots against diseases.