Just as in humans, also in plants we realise more and more that microbes play a crucial role in their well-being. The hundreds to thousands of microbial species associated with plants expand the host genome manifold. This provides plants with beneficial traits such as enhanced resistance against pathogens and insects, better nutrient acquisition, optimized growth and development, and tolerance to environmental stresses.
This provides opportunities to address key societal problems such as the increased global demands for food and the need for crops that are less dependent on fertilisers and pesticides. Especially the highly diverse microbial communities present in and on roots of plants are promising but are so far largely a black box and therefore mostly neglected.
With the RPA-SB we will contribute to disentangling the regulation of the interaction between plants and their root-associated microbiomes to harness their potential to improve stress resilience of crops.