Fundamental controls on plant root exudation under climate change

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Earth Atmospheric and Env Sciences


There is a growing awareness that a sustainable food production needs to make use of beneficial plant-soil interactions. Plants form tight links with soil microorganisms, both directly via symbiotic associations with mycorrhizal fungi, but also indirectly, through the input of litter and root exudates. These carbon inputs, in the form of root exudates, play an important role in shaping the composition and activity of soil microbial communities, which feed back to plant growth by releasing nutrients. Moreover, evidence is increasing that root exudates play a fundamental role in ecosystem response to climate change. However, very little is known about how plants control the quality and quantity of root exudation, and how this is modified under changing environmental conditions. This knowledge is essential for making food production systems more sustainable.

This studentship aims to disentangle the mechanisms through which plants regulate root exudation under climate change, and how this is linked to plant physiological adjustments in carbon allocation. The student will perform controlled experiments using Arabidopsis ecotypes and common agricultural and grassland species, and will use state-of-the-art RNA and DNA sequencing and modern MS-based techniques to dynamically link gene expression to patterns of root exudation and changes in soil microbial communities. The student will be trained in these techniques, and in analysing the results computationally, in the world-class soil and ecosystem ecology lab of De Vries, plant genetics lab of Johnson and Gallois, and bioanalytical lab of Goodacre.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011208/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1792130 Studentship BB/M011208/1 05/09/2016 31/03/2021 Reuben Margerison
Description British Ecological Society Travel and Training Grant
Amount £150 (GBP)
Organisation British Ecological Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 01/2018
Description GARNet-Monogram Early Career Researcher Travel Award
Amount £150 (GBP)
Organisation GARNet 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 02/2017
Description SCI Messel Travel Bursary
Amount £850 (GBP)
Organisation Society of Chemical Industry 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 12/2017
Description Society of Experimental Biology's Company of Biologists Travel Grant
Amount £650 (GBP)
Organisation The Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 09/2018