Dr Davide Bulgarelli
Plants host remarkable rich and diverse microbial communities in proximity of and within their tissues, designated the plant microbiota. Intriguingly, these associations appear symptomless at first glance, possibly representing a series of mutualistic or symbiotic relationships. Interestingly, experiments performed under laboratory conditions revealed that members of the microbiota provide strategic functions to the plant, such as enhanced mineral acquisition and indirect pathogen protection. However the role and function of the microbiota in a community context is still largely unknown.
My group aims at understanding the structure, function and host control of the microbiota thriving at the root-soil interface. (Figure 1).
Figure 1 - The rhizosphere and root microbiota ( modified from Hirsch & Mauchline Nature Biotechnology 30, 961-962 (2012)).
We use Barley (Hordeum vulgare, Figure 2 ) as a model to unravel the contribution of the microbiota to plant growth and health. Towards this objective we use state of the art metagenomics, molecular microbiology and computational biology approaches. By exploiting the experimental and molecular resources available for barley, such as mutants, accessions, and -"omics" tools, we aim to integrate our findings into a plant genetic framework.
Figure 2 Barley plant Figure 3 Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene revelaled an impact of different barley accessions on the rhizospehre and root microbiota.
Our ambition is to gain fundamentally novel insights on the molecular interactions existing between an eukaryotic genome and its associated microbiome. In our vision the generated knowledge will be key to exploit plant-microbiota relationships for the sustainability of barley and other crop production.
I teach molecular plant-soil microbes interactions inthe Level 3 course BS32008 ( Plant Sciences) and the Level 4 course BS42005 ( advanced Plant Sciences).
Alegria Terrazas R, Balbirnie-Cumming K, Morris JA, Hedley PE, Russell J, Paterson E, Baggs EM, Fridman E, Bulgarelli D. 2020. A footprint of plant eco-geographic adaptation on the composition of the barley rhizosphere bacterial microbiota. Scientific Reports. 10(1):Article 12916. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69672-x
Caradonia F, Ronga D, Catellani M, Azevedo CVG, Alegria Terrazas R, Robertson-Albertyn S, Francia E, Bulgarelli D. 2019. Nitrogen Fertilizers Shape the Composition and Predicted Functions of the Microbiota of Field-Grown Tomato Plants. Phytobiomes Journal . 3(4):315-325. https://doi.org/10.1094/PBIOMES-06-19-0028-R
Escudero-Martinez C, Bulgarelli D. 2019. Tracing the evolutionary routes of plant-microbiota interactions. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 49:34-40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2019.09.013
Morera-Margarit, P., Bulgarelli, D., Pope, T. W., Graham, R. I., Mitchell, C. and Karley, A. J. (2019) The bacterial community associated with adult vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) in UK populations growing on strawberry is dominated by Candidatus Nardonella. Entomol Exp Appl. 167, 186-196
Crecchio, C., Mimmo, T., Bulgarelli, D., Pertot, I., Pii, Y., Perazzolli, M., Scagliola, M. and Cesco, S. (2018) Beneficial Soil Microbiome for Sustainable Agriculture Production. Sustain Agr Rev. 31, 443-481
Pietrangelo L, Bucci A, Maiuro L, Bulgarelli D, Naclerio G. 2018. Unraveling the Composition of the Root-Associated Bacterial Microbiota of Phragmites australis and Typha latifolia. Frontiers in Microbiology. 9:1-13.
Bulgarelli D. 2018. How manipulating the plant microbiome could improve agriculture. Scientist. 32(2).
Rathore, R., Dowling, D.N., Forristal, P.D., Spink, J., Cotter, P.D., Bulgarelli, D., and Germaine, K.J. (2017) Crop Establishment Practices Are a Driver of the Plant Microbiota in Winter Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus). Frontiers in microbiology. 8, 1489
Robertson-Albertyn S.,, Alegria Terrazas, R., Balbirnie, K., Blank, M., Janiak, A., Szarejko, I., Chmielewska, B., Karcz, J., Morris, J., Hedley, P.E., George, T.S., and Bulgarelli, D. (2017) Root Hair Mutations Displace the Barley Rhizosphere Microbiota. Frontiers in plant science. 8, 1094
Alegria Terrazas R., Giles C., Paterson E., Robertson-Albertyn S., Cesco S., Mimmo T., Pii Y., and Bulgarelli D. (2016). Plant-Microbiota Interactions as a Driver of the Mineral Turnover in the Rhizosphere. Advances in Applied Microbiology 95:1-67
Bulgarelli D., Garrido Oter R., Muench P., Weiman A., Droege J., Pan Y., McHardy A. and Schulze-Lefert P. (2015) Structure and Functions of the bacterial root microbiota in wild and domesticated barley. Cell Host and Microbe 17:392-403
Schlaeppi K. and Bulgarelli D. (2014) The plant microbiome at work. Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions Journal 28:212-217
Bulgarelli D., Schlaeppi K., Spaepen S., Ver Loren van Themaat E and Schulze-Lefert P. (2013) Structure and functions of the bacterial microbiota of plants. Annual Review of Plant Biology. 64:807-838.
Schlaeppi K., Ver Loren van Themaat E., Bulgarelli D. and Schulze-Lefert P. (2013). Arabidopsis thaliana as model for studies on the bacterial root microbiota. In Molecular and Microbial ecology of the Rhizosphere, de Bruin F. J. DOI: 10.1002/9781118297674
Bulgarelli D., Rott M., Schlaeppi K., Ver Loren van Themaat E., Ahmadinejad N., Assenza F., Rauf P., Huettel B., Reinhardt R., Schmelzer E., Peplies J., Gloeckner F. O., Amann R., Eickhorst E., Schulze-Lefert P. (2012). Revealing structure and assembly cues for Arabidopsis root-inhabiting bacterial microbiota. Nature 488:91–95
Bulgarelli D., Biselli C. Collins N. C., Consonni G., Stanca A. M., Schulze-Lefert P., Vale´G. (2010): The CC-NB-LRR-Type Rdg2a Resistance Gene Confers Immunity to the Seed-Borne Barley Leaf Stripe Pathogen in the Absence of Hypersensitive Cell Death. PlosONE 5(9): e12599. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012599
Haegi A, Bonardi V, Dall’Aglio E., Glissant D.,Tumino G., Bulgarelli D, Collins N. C., Infantino A., Stanca A. M., Delledonne M., Valè G (2008): Histological and Molecular Analysis of Rdg2a barley resistance to leaf stripe. Molecular Plant Pathology. 9:463-478.
Tacconi G., Baldassarre V., Collins N. C., Bulgarelli D., Stanca A. M., Valè G. (2006): Haplotype characterization and markers at the barley Mlo powdery mildew resistance locus as tools for marker assisted selection. Genome. 49: 864-872.
Francia E, Tacconi G, Crosatti C, Barabaschi D, Bulgarelli D, Dall’Aglio E, Valè G (2005): Marker-Assisted selection in crop plants. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture. 82: 317-342.
Bulgarelli D., Collins N. C., Tacconi G., Dall’Aglio E., Brueggeman R., Kleinhofs A. Stanca A. M., Valè G. (2004): High resolution genetic mapping of the leaf stripe resistance gene Rdg2a in Barley. Theoretical Applied Genetics 108: 1401-1408.
Animating Science Project
Animating Science uses stop motion animation to create animated films about Life Science concepts and processes. This film was produced by members of the public in collaboration with my group and animator Andrew Low as part of our annual Plant Power Day 2019 at the University of Dundee Botanic Garden. This project was funded by BBSRC.
Plant Microbiome to the Rescue is a short animation examining the interaction between soil microbes and plants in our very own plant microbiome. It shows the good, the bad and the ugly of the soil microbe world and how they can contribute to the health of many plants.
Article aimed at school pupils about the research of Davide Bulgarelli and his career to date in plant sciences. Includes a worksheet for pupils to complete in class.
This article was produced by Futurum, a magazine and online platform aimed at inspiring young people to follow a career in the sciences, research and technology. For more information, teaching resources, and course and career guides, see www.futurumcareers.com