Bacterial populations associated with Populus tremula x alba wildtype and 2 lines modified for a lower lignin production: genotypic and phenotypic characterization and their potential to improve biomass production. (Research)
Since lignins are considered to be the major obstacle during processing of plant-biomass for end-use applications, modifying lignin content using genetic engineering has attracted significant research attention. However, reduced lignin levels are often associated with drastic changes in the composition of soluble phenolics and sometimes have negative effects on plant growth and development. In this project, the effect of lignin reductions on the plant-associated bacterial population and the potential to exploit plant-associated bacteria to reduce the negative effects of lignin reductions will be investigated. In a first part, the diversity of the cultivable and non-cultivable bacterial population associated with Populus tremula x alba wildtype and 2 lines engineered for lower lignin production will be determined and compared. Further, all isolated cultivable bacterial populations will be tested for their use of different carbon sources found in the xylem and their plant growth promotion potential. In the final experiments, a selection of the most promising poplar-associated bacteria will be inoculated in Populus tremula x alba wildtype and the 2 engineered lines and the effect of inoculation on plant fitness, the composition of xylem extracts and the efficiency of processing biomass for end-use applications will be evaluated.
Period of project
01 January 2012 - 31 December 2015