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Mycorrhizal communities of banana plants

Banana accommodates the fourth most important global food commodity.

Supervisors
Vincent Merckx & Sofia Gomes

Contact
vincent.merckx@naturalis.nl, sofia.fernandesgomes@naturalis.nl

Period & duration
2018; 6 months

Study & level
Biology, MSc.

Background & context
Banana accommodates the fourth most important global food commodity (after rice, wheat and maize) and is grown in more than 130 countries, mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Southern hemisphere. Significant investments have been made to select banana varieties that are more productive (more harvest periods per year), less susceptible to diseases (mostly to Fusarium spp.), and more resistant to drought. Nonetheless, the knowledge of what happens in natural systems, specifically on the diversity of bananas’ mycorrhizal partners, seems to have been largely overlooked.

Objectives & goals
The main objective of this research is to investigate the arbuscular mycorrhizal communities that live in symbiosis in the roots of wild banana plants in their natural habitats. Samples for this research were collected at various localities in Papua New Guinea.

Methods, tasks, and approach
The fungal communities of Musa species from Papua New Guinea (obtained with metabarcoding approaches) will be compared between species and sampling localities. We are particularly interested in the identity of the AM fungal partners of banana plants, and the structure of these communities in relation to species identity, traits, geography, and ecological factors. This research project mainly consists of using bioinformatics pipelines to analazse complex interaction patterns. The results will be of interest to a broad scientific audience, and may lead to a scientific publication.

Requirements
None