Our proposed research project generally aims to isolate and identify beneficial microorganisms, i.e., rhizosphere or endophytic bacteria, and soil fungi that can be incorporated into BioChar. We hypothesized that by bringing these three beneficial entities together, it will promote plant growth (BioChar + soil fungus Trichoderma + Rhizosphere/Endophytic Bacterium = Enhanced Plant Growth).
For our research study, the two phases of the project are currently being conducted at UST. Soil samples including those soil adhering to roots of Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia (“Romaine Lettuce”) were collected from a local farm in La Trinidad, Benguet Province, Northern Philippines. The soil samples were serially diluted and spread plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA), synthetic nurtrient-poor agar (SNA) and dichloran rose bengal chloramphenicol agar (DRBCA) for the isolation of Trichoderma and other beneficial soil fungi. A total of 24 fungal strains were isolated and purified in this study. Of these, only two fungal strains are suspected to be Trichoderma. These soil fungi will then be tested for their antagonistic activities against the fungal plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum, causing fungal wilt among economically important crops.
We also isolated and purified soil bacteria on tryptic soy agar (TSA) from the collected bulk soil and rhizosphere soil. In addition, leaf, stem and root parts were plated for the isolation of epiphytic bacteria and fungi. The plant substrata were also surface-sterilized and the explants plated for the isolation of endophytic bacteria and fungi, i.e. those growing within tissues of host plants. We were able to isolate a total of 22 bacterial strains from the soil samples. Thirty one plant-associated fungi were also isolated while 41 plant-associated bacteria were recorded in this study. The isolated bacteria will be tested for its plant-growth promoting activity, e.g. phosphate-solubulizing property, while the isolated fungi will be tested for its antagonistic activity against plant pathogen.
All isolated bacteria and fungi will be characterized morphoculturally and promising bacterial and fungal strains will be identified using gene sequence analysis. These will be used for the biochar-amended soil samples which will be tested for the growth of test economic crops under greenhouse condition (phase 3). This part of the project will be conducted at the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research in Germany. Soil samples will also be tested for elemental analysis for possible isolation of other unique fungi or bacteria.
About the GYA North-South Interdisciplinary Grant
The GYA includes a diverse membership of scientists and scholars, in many disciplines, based in developed and developing countries. This grant scheme was initiated in 2014, aiming to foster collaboration across the lines that often separate researchers and limit possibilities. Specifically, this scheme facilitates the development of small-scale, innovative, curiosity-driven, blue-sky, exploratory research pilots or prototypes that unite researchers in developed and developing countries and cross disciplinary boundaries.
The North-South Interdisciplinary Grant is awarded annually, and is meant to provide seed money to enable GYA members to prepare a proof of concept, prototype, or pilot research project with a view to securing larger external funding.