The European Alliance on Agricultural knowledge for Development

The potential of soil microbes to offer crop protection

14 March 2017. With an 8-million-dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an international team will now explore the potential of soil microbes to offer crop protection. The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is coordinating this 5-year project. The project has been aptly named PROMISE, which stands for ‘Promoting Root Microbes for Integrated Striga Eradication’.

The team consists of scientists from the Netherlands, Ethiopia and the United States. NIOO’s research partners are the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR,Ethiopia), the company AgBiome and the University of California, Davis (United States), and the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute and University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). Together, they will carry out research from lab to greenhouse and field.

“Our goal is to reduce the substantial damage to sorghum caused by Striga with the help of micro-organisms. The PROMISE project will carry out the first step by mapping the potential of micro-organisms present in African soils. Our strength lies in an ecosystem approach, studying the ‘teamwork’ between microbes, plants, soil characteristics and management practices used by farmers. There is no ‘silver bullet’ or holy grail: the solution asks for an integrated strategy. We are thinking in more than one direction. For instance, we hope to protect sorghum plants with micro-organisms that suppress Striga infections as well as micro-organisms that can reduce the large number of Striga seeds present in the African soils. We expect the first practical applications in ten years from now.”” Jos Raaijmakers, NIOO microbial ecologist and project coordinator

Ethiopia was chosen as it is one of the countries where the impact of Striga on sorghum is most devastating. For the project to make a lasting contribution to solving the problems of these farmers, it will be vital to improve local research facilities, train local researchers and share knowledge.


Source: PAEPARD FEED

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