Influence of agricultural land use intensity on the health functions of microbiomes along the food chain
Humans, animals and plants are in close relationship with complex microbial communities, the so-called microbiome.
Its functional composition is crucial for the delicate balance between microbiome and host.
Environmental changes in particular disturb this balance and can thus lead to sometimes severe diseases and the collapse of entire ecosystems.
However, the effects of anthropogenic impacts on the functions of different microbiomes in complex ecosystems are poorly studied.
The ecosystem function of grassland for human and environmental health is determined by its intensity of use. In our project IMPALA ('Impact of agricultural land-use intensity on health functions of microbiomes along the trophic chain'), funded by the Baden-Württemberg-Stiftung, we are investigating the effect of anthropogenic influences on the functionality of microbiomes along the food chains in grassland from soil, through roots and flowers of a key agricultural and ecosystem-relevant plant, to soil inhabitants and pollinators.
We aim to experimentally investigate the effect of intensive fertilization (manure, biogas digestate, or inorganic) on the functionality of host-microbiome interactions, and to analyze the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes and naturally produced antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) as key indicators of multitrophic ecosystem function.
The identification of bacteriocin producers will also allow the development of new applications to enhance microbiome resilience.
The project thus provides functional data on the impact of intensive land use on the stability of a complex ecosystem.