Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Ecology

Multitrophic interactions with oaks

The project is part of the DFG Cooperation “Multitrophic interactions with oaks” where six research groups analyse gene regulation and resource allocation in oaks faced with major biotrophic partners, i.e. ectomycorrhiza, root pathogenic microorganisms, invertebrate root consumers, mycorrhiza helper bacteria, leaf pathogenic fungi and invertebrate herbivores. For details on the scientific consortium see

Pratylenchus penetrating a plant root cell
(Picture courtesy Ulrich Zunke)


Within this consortium we investigate the gene expression response of mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal oak microcuttings to major rhizosphere herbivores, the plant parasitic nematodes. Plant gene expression as well as carbon and nitrogen allocation is assessed in two growth phases of oaks, i.e. root and shoot flushes. Stable isotopes are further used to estimate the time dependent flux of carbon into different rhizosphere compartments. In addition, interactions between root feeding nematodes and beneficial rhizosphere bacteria (actinomycetes) will be investigated. Overall, we aim to obtain a comprehensive picture on rhizosphere interactions between oaks, microbial communities and root herbivores.