Project properties

Title Synergies in plant nutrient acquisition: Can plant species with different nutrient acquisition strategies synergistically enhance the bioavailability of essential nutrients?
Group Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Walter Schenkeveld, Marie Zwetsloot
Examiner(s) Prof.dr R. Comans
Contact info
Begin date 2021/05/07
End date
Description To realize a more sustainable agriculture practice, there is an immanent need to reduce fertilizer application and to more efficiently utilize nutrient reserves present in soils.

Plants have different strategies for acquiring nutrients from soil. Many of these strategies involve the release of root exudates. There is a great diversity of classes of root exudates (e.g. phytosiderophores, coumarins, flavonoid, phosphatases, low molecular weight organic acid, etc), which influence nutrient availability in soil through different mechanisms. Recently, it has been demonstrated that by combining the strategies from different plant species (involving different classes of root exudates), synergies in nutrient mobilization can be created from which both plants species may benefit; more nutrients are mobilized for the combination of the strategies than for the sum of the two individual strategies. However, little is known about which combinations of root exudates/plant species may lead to such synergies.

In this MSc thesis project this knowledge gap will be addressed. Plant species with different nutrient acquisition strategies and root exudation profiles will be grown in hydroponics under nutrient deficient conditions (e.g. for Fe, P, Zn). Their exudates will be collected and analysed, and nutrient mobilization from soils by the exudates, isolated and in mixtures, will be examined. Soils with limited nutrient availability will be selected. Combinations of exudates that generate synergistically enhanced nutrient mobilization provide promising leads for application in sustainable crop production.
Used skills Literature review, proposal writing, laboratory work (incl. a hydroponic plant experiment and soil interaction experiments), data processing, thesis writing
Requirements Some laboratory experience required, as well as required courses for the MSc thesis Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality (SOC-81336), preferably including Soil Quality (SOC21806)