Project properties

Title Natural root exudates: a weapon against soil-borne plant-pathogens?
Group Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation Group
Project type thesis
Credits 30-36
Supervisor(s) Eline Ampt, Liesje Mommer, Jasper van Ruijven
Examiner(s) Liesje Mommer, Jasper van Ruijven
Contact info
Begin date 2019/09/01
End date 2022/12/31
Description We are looking for an enthusiastic MSc student who is willing to perform experiments with plants, root exudates, and fungi under controlled conditions! Starting date can be any period.

Fungal root pathogens cause major diseases in agriculture that are hard to combat with regular measures such as chemicals and crop rotation. However, combining plant species (i.e. intercropping) can reduce fungal root diseases: neighbouring plants of another species can protect the suceptible plants! We are investigating whether root exudates of neighbour plants are responsible for this protection. So far we have very promising results that show a large reduction in fungal pathogen growth in the presence of root exudates of a specific grass species. Yet, we need to know more about this mechanism!

In this thesis you can collect root exudates of a range of plant species that we work with, and test them in various ways for inhibitory activity against fungal pathogens.
Analyzing the chemical composition (LC-MS) of the root exudates could also be an activity, depending on your interest.
Possibilities to test the effect of root exudates on fungal pathogens include:
- comparison of exudates of plants grown in monoculture or in species mixtures
- comparison of exudates of plants grown in the presence of a fungal pathogen vs those without
- comparing the response of many different pathogens
- testing specific active compounds from root exudates
- testing in soil ..
- etc.. your ideas?!

When you are interested, we can discuss the possibilities that you like!
Just contact me at and I'll get in touch with you.

Keywords: plant physiology, phytopathology, ecology , fungus , roots , in vitro
Used skills This project combines the fields of ecology and phytopathology. You will perform bio-assays with a range of grassland plant species and soil-borne plant-pathogenic fungi under controlled conditions. This involves microbiological techniques such as sterile work, fungal culture, seed sterilization, growing plants, measuring fungal and plant growth responses etc. There might also be some chemical analysis of LC-MS data involved. You will analyse your own data and write a report (thesis).