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Deciphering volatile bacterial compounds and their effects on the promotion of plant growth, control of the Cercospora leaf blight and modulation of the maize microbiome (Zea mays L.)

Grant number: 21/03342-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2021
Effective date (End): July 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal Investigator:Juliana Velasco de Castro Oliveira
Grantee:Leonardo José da Silva
Host Institution: Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNPEM). Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovações (Brasil). Campinas , SP, Brazil


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are described as signalling molecules and can be considered protagonists in important ecological relationships, such as symbiosis, resistance induction and antagonism. A vast and diverse group of these compounds is naturally produced as part of the microbial metabolism in response to environmental factors. However, few studies have been developed with the purpose of exploring the potential of these metabolic complexes as agents of biological control and/or promoters of plant growth. In this context, we intend to establish a collection of VOCs-producing bacteria that are efficient in promoting corn growth and in reducing the harmful effects caused by Cercospora zeae-maydis. The bacteria will be isolated from samples of rhizospheric soil (rhizobacteria) and from corn plant tissues (endophytes), from areas with high agricultural productivity. In addition to the characterization of the active volatile metabolites, the modulating effect of these regulatory agents on the corn microbiome will also be investigated in order to elucidate the mechanisms of interaction between VOCs, plants and microorganisms. Volatilomas will be identified by Gas Chromatography coupled to a Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) and the taxonomic and functional modulation of the microbial community will be evaluated via sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and by the analysis of gene expression via RNA-Seq (metatranscriptomics). Therefore, this proposal consists of a multidisciplinary approach between Agronomy, Microbiology, Analytical Chemistry and Molecular Biology fields, which are unified in the following thematic axes: agricultural management, microbial ecology and biotechnology. This project is in search of a better efficiency in agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability and in the generation of knowledge for the development of bio-inputs based on VOCs, in the near future. The proposal is based on data from the scientific literature, as well it is aligned with the results previously obtained from the Brazilian Biorenewables National Laboratory - LNBR/CNPEM (Project: PITE FAPESP-Agilent 2017/20521-6). (AU)

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