TROPHINOAK : Multitrophic interactions with Oaks - A controlled system with oak microcuttings to study gene expression and resource allocation in multitrophic interactions

Funded by DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)


Executive summary

Plant functioning depends on beneficial and detrimental biotrophic interactions intermingled with internal processes, e.g. the endogenous rhythmic development with alternating shoot and root growth flushes observed in oak trees. Seven research groups within 4 project parts will compare gene regulation and resource allocation in oaks faced with major biotrophic partners, i.e. ectomycorrhiza, root pathogenic microorganisms, rhizospheric invertebrate consumers, mycorrhization helper bacteria, leaf pathogenic fungi and leaf invertebrate herbivores. A Joined Experimental Platform with clonal mycorrhizal oak microcuttings will serve to analyse the impact of each biotrophic partner under standardized conditions by tracer experiments with 13C and 15N and transcriptomic with a 30 000 EST microarray completed by qRT-PCR. In additional experiments the project parts will combine different biotrophic agents, consider the dynamics of the associations, above-belowground interactions or the influence of climatic conditions. The project aims at disentangling regulation mechanisms common or specific of the interactions, initiating controlled multitrophy experiments, and constructing a thematic microarray. A follow-up Research Unit will deepen regulation studies and field analyses on the impact of multitrophy on the plant outcome under different environmental conditions.