Diversity and functions of bacterial endophytes of arctic plants

Plants in all climates and in all ecosystems are associated with a diverse array of microbes. Endophytic bacteria have been isolated from a large diversity of plants, where they form non-pathogenic, often mutualistic, relationships with their hosts. Although the presence of endophytic bacteria has been known for long, awareness of their abundance and potential benefits has grown rapidly in recent years. Most of the reported research on endophytic bacteria concerns agricultural systems in warm or temperate climate zones. In contrast, there are only a handful of studies on endophytic bacteria in natural ecosystems, and currently there is virtually no data on endophytic bacterial diversity in the arctic flora.

We are looking for a highly motivated Master’s student for our research project exploring the diversity of endophytic bacteria in arctic plant species, and traits of these plant-inhabiting bacteria with potential ecological role(s) and applicational value. We approach these topics by (1) Isolation of endobacterial communities from arctic plants, (2) Characterization of endobacterial community diversity by molecular methods and by endophyte isolation, and by (3) Screening for beneficial traits, as production or modulation of phytohormones, antagonism, nutrient mobilization and production of cold-active enzymes.

Juncus trifidus in the mid-oroarctic zone on fell Malla in Kilpisjärvi, Finland

The results will provide novel data on an as yet completely uncharacterized aspect of arctic and subarctic biodiversity and broaden our understanding of plant adaptation to arctic environments and the role of endophytes therein. The field work will be conducted in Kilpisjärvi region located in northern Scandinavia and – funds allowing - in Spitsbergen (Ny-Ålesund region). Laboratory work and analysis will be done in Department of Microbial Ecology in University of Groningen

We are looking for a student with basic knowledge and kills in molecular biological and/or microbiology and interest in plant ecology and plant-microbe interactions. Ideally, the student should participate in both the field work in Kilpisjärvi and laboratory work in Groningen. The preferred start date for the project is late spring 2010.

If interested, please contact Dr. Riitta Nissinen or Prof. Jan Dirk van Elsas or call: 050-363 2161
Willem Barentsz Poolinstituut

Bundeling van kennis, onderzoek en onderwijs over de Noord- en de Zuidpool

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