Master student

Agriculture Sciences
1 Jun, 2021 to 31 Dec, 2021
25 Feb, 2021

General information

8 months

Soil beneficial microorganisms, and specially the widespread arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have a great potential as biofertilizers and bioprotection agents in a modern and sustainable agriculture. These microorganisms establish mutualistic symbiosis with most land plants, including most agricultural crops as tomato, providing enormous benefits to plant nutrition and health. The use of AM fungi will definitively help to reduce the use and abuse of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, while increasing crop resilience against diverse stresses. However, despite their wide potential, the use of mycorrhizal inoculants in agriculture is still challenging because of the variability of the results when applied to the fields. This variability relies in the quality and effectivity of the inoculants, the environmental conditions and crop management, mainly phosphate and nitrogen fertilization, which strongly impact symbiosis establishment. AM symbiosis establishment requires a high degree of communication and coordination between the plant and fungal partners, which is based on the production and exudation into the rhizosphere of molecular signals. Thus, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in this beneficial association is crucial for the development and design of new microbial-based inoculants.

The student will be involved in the optimization of AM symbiosis establishment through the improvement of the plant-AM fungus signalling (strigolactones, flavonoids, Myc factors and new uncharacterized metabolites). AM symbiosis will be studied under different nutritional regimes, root exudates under these different growth conditions will be collected and analyzed by HPLC-MS/MS., and roots will be analyzed using molecular markers. This research has a marked multidisciplinary character, involving areas related to plant physiology, microbiology, molecular biology, chemistry and environmental sciences.

The outcomes of this research will open up new possibilities for biotechnological applications in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly agriculture to meet the increasing food demand.

No financial compensation
Years of Experience required: 


Plant communication  sustainable agriculture  beneficial soil microorganisms  rhizosphere  

Additional Information

We are a young and enthusiastic research group focused on the use of soil beneficial microorganisms in sustainable agriculture. We are looking for highly motivated students who believe in a more balanced and sustainable future agriculture, and who are interested in improving his/her knowledge in this research line.
English: Independent User B1
Level of Studies: