The objective of MicroMaize is to develop and validate integrated farming practices based on phytostimulation and biofertilisation to enable a reduction of chemical fertiliser usage in a key European cropping system, maize monoculture. Maize is a strategic target as it is often grown in a non-sustainable way in Europe, and it has been imported from Mexico in relatively recent times, without its entire guild of root-associated beneficial microbes.<P>
The project will focus on synergistic consortia of multifunction plant-beneficial microbes comprising the two PGPR Azospirillum (nitrogen fixation and modulation of plant hormonal balance) and Pseudomonas (phosphate solubilisation and phytohormone modulation), and the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus (nitrogen and phosphorus mineralization/acquisition). Novel research tools including micro-array technology and plant metabolic profiling will be used to design consortia and monitor plant-microbe interactions in situ.<P>
The establishment of introduced and indigenous plant-beneficial microbial consortia in the maize rhizosphere will be achieved by inoculation and management of the indigenous microbial community via the choice of maize genotypes, respectively. The novel microbial management strategies developed in this project will be integrated with current farming practices in maize monoculture. They will be validated at different field locations throughout Europe (and in Mexico) under real-life conditions, and positive agronomic effects on crop yield, yield quality, food safety (mycotoxins), and residual nutrient levels in soil at harvest will be quantified.
Microbial innovation will be transferred to farmers and other end-users via demonstration actions and various dissemination modes. These goals will be achieved by a partnership including three top academic centres, two technical institutes, two SMEs, one OTH and one INCO partner who is currently managing the largest successful inoculation program for maize worldwide.
For more information about this project, please visit the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/food_quality/projects/157_en.ht…; target="_blank">European Commission Food Quality and Safety in Europe</a> Web site.