Functions and ecology of the plant microbiome

This month I attended the 28th New Phytologist symposium on Functions and ecology of the plant microbiome in Rhodes, Greece. It was a great place to listen to talks by people working with different aspects of microbial communities in plants, whether it was beneficial interactions in the roots, defense strategies to avoid pathogens, phyllosphere communities, the effect of plant genetics on microbes or interpretations of chemical signalling from the plants.

Some of the issues that were brought up and discussed among the participants were: How do we sample rhizospheres in order to be able to compare results? What are the biases inherent in technologies currently used to determine composition of microbial communities? Which technology is the best choice for answering the questions we want to ask?

Some of my highlights from the talks were:

Jo Handelsman: Talking about the “camouflage theory” and the history of studying the plant microbiota.

Jos Raaijmakers: Discussing the balance between “the good, the bad and the ugly” microbes in soil communities.

Paul Schulze-Lefert: Describing a not yet published experiment using tooth picks as controls to determine metaboilicly active bacteria in root systems.

Jerry Tuskan: Presenting a very solid study of poplar genotypes and their microbial communities including potential mycorrhiza helper bacteria.

If you’re more interested in the symposium, here are some links:

Info about the symposium:


My poster: Microbial fingerprints in the rhizosphere


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