Microbial Communities in the Alfalfa Rhizosphere and Their Influence on Plant Health and Crop Productivity
Crop production systems in the U.S. rely heavily on expensive inorganic fertilizers. Perennial legumes such as alfalfa increase soil fertility via the action of root-associated microbes. Also, alterations in microbial communities are thought to drive rotation effects that increase production in grain crops grown after alfalfa. However, there is a lack of understanding of the relationships between microbial communities, microbial functional activities, and nutrient cycling. Moreover, the effect of root architecture on the rhizosphere microbiome, nutrient acquisition, and productivity has largely been ignored. A better understanding of the interaction between alfalfa root architecture and rhizosphere microbial communities will lead to novel strategies to harness the power of these communities to produce healthier and more robust crops with fewer inputs. Microbial communities will be identified using metagenomic approaches. MSI resources will be used for assembly and analysis of metagenomic sequence data.
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