Plant-microbe synergy: an innovative, sustainable tool to improve air quality (Research)
Airborne pollutants, including particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, constitute a major problem in most urban areas. According to recent data, more people now die from air pollution than malaria and HIV together. Despite the complexity in composition of air pollution, phytoremediation was already shown to be an effective remediation technology. Further, many years of research show that plant-microbe interactions can be exploited to significantly enhance phytoremediation of contaminated environments. In case of air pollution, phyllospheric and leaf-endophytic bacteria constitute promising candidates to detoxify part of the pollutants by means of degradation, transformation or sequestration and to promote plant growth, thereby improving pollutant adsorbance. In this project, the structure and function of phyllospheric and leaf-endophytic bacterial communities associated with Hedera helix, selected as host plant, is elucidated using a metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approach. Next, isolated strains are phenotypically characterized by assessing their capacity to detoxify airborne pollutants and to improve pollutant adsorbance. The most promising strains are selected for whole genome shotgun sequencing and inoculation experiments. Hence, using cutting-edge cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent techniques, the underlying mechanisms of pollutant detoxification are unraveled and an optimized plant-microbe system to improve air quality is established.
Period of project
01 October 2016 - 30 September 2017