Hide-and-seek: the role of pathogenic soil-borne fungi in natural grassland biodiversity
Grasslands are among the most diverse ecosystems on earth, with up to 89 plant species per m2! However, we currently do not understand the biological mechanisms underlying this diversity. It is hypothesized however, that soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi play a large role in regulating such vegetation patterns through the process of negative plant-soil feedback. In my PhD project, I aim to reveal specific interactions between these soil-borne fungi and the grassland plant species by investigating negative host density–dependence and the role of the neighbouring plant community.
More fundamental knowledge on these plant-fungal interactions can also be applicable in agriculture, where improved intercropping designs can reduce pesticide inputs.
This project is part of the NWO VIDI-project of prof. Liesje Mommer.
For thesis opportunities, see the description in the TIP-database!