Defining a tree's microbiome

Last changed: 03 October 2019
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In this project, we study the ecological mechanisms contributing to the assembly of a tree’s microbiome. The project will reveal host traits correlated with pathogen susceptibility relevant for future tree breeding.

What defines a tree’s microbiome, the genotype, the stand or the landscape context?

The aim of the project is to study the ecological mechanisms contributing to the assembly of a tree’s microbiome and whether the assembly of endophytic and pathogenic foliar fungi depends on the host genotype, its phenotypic traits, or the stand or landscape context. We expect that the genotypic traits of the host tree will act as a ‘habitat filter’, and that this mechanism will contribute more to the assembly of species colonising tree foliage than the environment and ‘species chance of arrival’.

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Jonàs Oliva and Malin Elfstrand at a field site taking samples. Photo: Anna Berlin.
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Field work is carried out in established seed orchards of Norway spruce in Southern Sweden. Photo: Anna Berlin.

Working with established seed orchards

Taking advantage of established seed orchards of Norway spruce in Southern Sweden with replicated genotyped and phenotyped clones in different locations this hypothesis will be addressed across different spatial scales. Changes in the assembly of foliar fungi, and species incidence in the phyllosphere and in the airborne spore community will be determined using a molecular approach, i.e. high through-put sequencing and quantitative PCR.

Protecting our future forests

The project will not only strengthen our knowledge about ecological mechanisms behind fungal establishment in tree foliage, but will also reveal host traits correlated with pathogen susceptibility relevant for future tree breeding. This is highly relevant in light of anticipated increase in disturbance to forest ecosystems in the future and the subsequent need to develop efficient management strategies.

Facts:

Researchers in the project

  • Anna Berlin
  • Malin Elfstrand
  • Jonas Oliva
  • Johanna Boberg

Project duration: 2017-2019

Financed by FORMAS


Contact

anna.berlin@slu.se, 018-671579

Page editor: cajsa.lithell@slu.se