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This project is one of the seven winners of the «Microbials - Direct Use of Micro-Organisms», call 2019. Project partners: University of Zürich; Agroscope.
Project no: GRS-076/19
Amount of funding: CHF 300'000
Duration: 01.2020 - 05.2023
Area of activity:
Microbials, seit 2016
Dr. Kirsty Agnoli
University of Zurich
Dept of Plant and Microbial Biology
8008 Zürich (Schweiz)
- k.agnoli@botinst. uzh. ch
Standard modern farming techniques rely on the heavy use of pesticides to improve crop yields, but many cause adverse effects, both to the consumer and to the environment. Bacteria can be used as environmentally friendly alternatives to pesticides, to improve plant growth and even to limit plant disease.
We have bioprospected in the plant microbiome for bacteria living inside and on the surface of plants, in the search for strains that can protect against important agricultural pathogens. Our focus is on those that cause fire blight, fungal diseases and potato late blight. Our aim is to identify new bacterial biocontrol agents, to expand the scope for biocontrol in agriculture.
What is special about the project?
Our strategy has involved isolating strains from crop plants and testing their potential to control our target diseases, as well as testing already isolated bacteria for such abilities. Strains that have shown promise will be characterised and tested in plants for their efficacy in preventing disease. This project aims to identify strains that can confer long-term resistance to pathogens, directly at the site of infection. To this end, the means of treatment with the potential bacterial biocontrol agent will be fitted to the particular crop to be protected; seed inoculation for the fast-growing crops maize and tomato and spraying the mature tree to protect apple crops.
We have screened approximately 1,100 bacterial strains, including previously characterised isolates, as well as environmental isolates from soil, apple blossoms and mosses, for their ability to inhibit/ kill the three disease-causing agents, Fusarium solani, Phytopthora infestans and Erwinia amylovora. This screen has yielded two promising biocontrol candidates; a Pantoea agglomerans isolate and an isolate that appears to be from a new species. These candidates are being investigated for the genetic basis of their antimicrobial activity and to determine their suitability for biocontrol.
Persons involved in the project
Dr. Kirsty Agnoli-Antkowiak
, project leader, University of ZurichProf. Dr. Leo Eberl
, project co-leader, University of ZurichDr. Gabrella Pessi
, co-leader, University of ZurichDr. Carlotta Fabbri
, technician, University of ZurichAnya Schnyder
, Masters student, University of Zurich
Last update to this project presentation 23.08.2022