P1-6: Scales of bacterial interactions on the leaf surface

PhD student: Daniel Esser
Thesis Committee: Dr. Katrin Meyer, Prof. Kerstin Wiegand, Prof. Johan Leveau, Prof. Martin Schlather

In my PhD project I investigate the interactions of individual bacterial colonizers with plant leaf surfaces. The main focus lies on describing how structural elements of the plant leaf surface, such as veins, trichomes, stomata or grooves between epidermal cells, affect the distribution of the individual bacterial cells.
My research method mostly relies on spatial statistics for point pattern analysis and the different varieties of the pair correlation function (inhomogeneous PCF, cross-type PCF) in particular. We developed a special variety called the line-to-point pair correlation function to study the interactions of the bacteria with linear leaf structures such as veins or grooves between epidermal cells. Furthermore, I use individual based models to better understand bacterial behavior in the phyllosphere.
Preliminary results showed that grooves between leaf epidermal cells are the key determinant of small-scale (< 10 µm) distribution of Pantoea agglomerans on green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Glandular trichomes facilitated growth of P. agglomerans at a larger scale up to 100 µm. Hooked trichomes on the other hand showed no clear interactions with this particular colonizer.

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