Roughly one-third of the world’s land surface is characterized by severe water deficiency, and these semi-arid and desert areas around the world are currently expanding, impacting local and global climate. Very little is known about the microbial communities inhabiting the natural dry ecosystems, but environmental genetic studies showed that diverse and active bacteria inhabit arid soils, and they are predicted to play a key role in methane cycling. Although the exact nature of microbe-plant interactions is not known, the notion of their importance may be crucial for the future understanding of factors governing the methane sink in arid soils and the overall functioning of the ecosystem. This project aims to bridge gaps in the understanding of metabolic interactions between plants and microbes inhabiting semi-arid and arid environments. The natural interactions between microbes and plants inhabiting dry land might provide novel solutions for sustainable crop-cultivation practices with a very limited water supply. Furthermore, understanding and fostering methanotrophic bacteria-plant interactions might provide a novel mechanism to control methane emissions.
Proposer’s Name: Marina Kalyuzhnaya