An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.



More than 2 billion people worldwide experience micronutrient deficiencies. Failure to consume enough vitamins and minerals is a growing, global problem (termed "hidden hunger"). An unlikely, low-tech solution to improving crop quality without sacrificing yield could literally be laying at our feet. The soil/root microbiome has been touted as a potential solution to affect agronomically important plants traits and yield, but could it also improve nutrient quality?The plant microbiome mediates many aspects of plant phenotype, including yield, reproductive phenology, and stress tolerance phenotypes. Microbes also profoundly affect nutrient cycling and availability in the rhizosphere which can directly affect crop nutritional quality. The major goal of this project is to harness the plant microbiome to enhance crop nutritional quality, an emerging research area with the potential to link ecological and physiological processes to optimize food production.I propose to investigate how the rhizosphere microbiome affects seed nutritional quality of the second most important pulse crop worldwide, chickpea (Cicer arietinum). I will "mine the microbiome" of domestic and wild chickpea relatives, using an approach that incorporates cutting edge sequencing technologies, seed nutritional phenotyping, and informatics to generate hypotheses, and synthetic community approaches to validate these relationships. This work will result in alternative technologies that will lead to improved crop quality, thus ameliorating "hidden hunger" worldwide. Additionally, approaches developed here can be used widely by researchers interested in linking host phenotype to microbiome structure and function.This project has two major objectives:Objective 1: Link functional genes to chickpea nutritional quality and microbiome isolatesObjective 1A) Correlate microbial functional genes with chickpea nutritional quality. I will use field common garden experiments on domestic chickpea and wild chickpea relatives grown in agricultural and prairie soils to identify microbial functional genes that correlate with yield, zinc, iron, and seed protein content. Objective 1B) Generate a culture collection to capture microbes containing important functional genes (identified in Aim1A). I will start a culture collection collected from three plant tissue types (root exterior, nodule exterior, and rhizosphere soil) from the field common garden and screen these isolates for functional genes of interest.Objective 2: Validate relationships between the rhizosphere microbiome and seed nutritional phenotypes. I will use a synthetic community approach to experimentally validate relationships between microbial taxa (isolated in Objective 1B) and crop traits identified in Objective 1A.

Petipas, R.
Washington State University
Start date
End date
Project number
Accession number