Sequencing technology has revolutionised the description of microbial communities and their interactions with other organisms. Many studies into the genetic diversity of microbiomes for a range of crops have been published, but these are fragmented and uncoordinated. It is impossible to understand the relative importance of genotypic and edaphic factors in driving crop microbiome function. Since samples are not stored adequately or publicly available, researchers cannot revisit them to add metadata as new technologies emerge or research priorities change. Existing culture collections store axenic cultures of single species. Whilst important, these provide limited scope in a 'microbiomic' age. To advance this, resources need to be developed and validated for preserving and reviving whole crop microbiomes, along with libraries of culturable strains with varying properties. We seek to create a cryopreserved 'CryoBank' of characterised plant-associated microbiomes (rhizoplane material, bacterial and fungal isolates, DNA) alongside an integrated bioinformatic database. After characterisation of the culturable microbiota associated with UK crops, synthetic microbial communities will be constructed and tested for positive plant growth traits. This will provide unique added value resources for further evaluation by industry and academia. This integrated resource will support Crop Microbiome research. Robust methodologies for collection and storage of intact microbial communities in environmental samples and extraction of total DNA will be applied. Cryopreservation will be optimised to sustainably maintain the resource in a genotypically, phenotypically and functionally stable state. Genomic tools capable of characterising samples will be used to assess microbial diversity (including symbionts, endophytes, pathogens) within the samples. Metadata will be accessed into the AgMicrobiome Base a bioinformatics information and data resource with links to EBI and sample metadata.
The UK Crop Microbiome CryoBank
Dr Jacob Malone
University of East Anglia