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Title: Characterising the functional role of rhizosphere fungi in Miscanthus giganteus bioenergy cropping systems
Author: Burns, Caitlin A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 5116
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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The rhizosphere has a rich fungal microbiome, including parasites, commensals and mutualists. An important group in the rhizosphere are assumed to be the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), which live in symbiosis with around 80% of plant species. AMF have been shown to increase plant yield, biomass, disease resistance, and shoot P. Plants exchange carbon in the form of sugars for nutrients assimilated by AMF. There is little known about AMF in association with Miscanthus giganteus, a productive bioenergy crop grown in the UK and abroad. Work was carried out to characterise the abundance, organisation, importance, function and stability over space and time of rhizosphere fungi and AMF in M. giganteus roots. Field samples from Lincolnshire were analysed using staining and molecular techniques, including small subunit rRNA gene terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism, clone libraries and amplicon pyrosequencing, and meta-transcriptomics. M. giganteus was also grown in a number of pot experiments, with various treatments including fungal inoculations and fungicide application. A number of fungal phyla were found in the roots, particularly Ascomycota, the composition of which shifted over time and exhibited diurnal patterns of activity. Fungi enhanced plant growth by a third, and were functionally active in the roots in the meta-transcriptome. AMF communities were found at much lower relative abundances in roots, and inoculation with AMF did not enhance M. giganteus growth. The work highlights the importance of the whole root mycobiome to plant growth and health, and the relatively small role Glomeromycota play in M. giganteus comparison with other fungi. The work also demonstrated the dynamic nature of fungal activity over hours, months, and years, and the complex interactions the fungal community has with environmental variables.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council ; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QK Botany ; SB Plant culture