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Bacterial response to ecological opportunities offered by soil fungi

04 December 2009

PhD ceremony: J.A.S. Warmink, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Bacterial response to ecological opportunities offered by soil fungi

Promotor(s): prof.dr. J.D. van Elsas

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Contact: Jan Warmink, tel. 050-363 2272, e-mail:

Microbial life plays an important role in the fertility of soil as it is involved in the most important biogeochemical cycli in soil. This makes research in this field of microbiology important for agriculture and - due to the complex structure of soil life - also for fundamental microbiology. Fungi and bacteria play a very important role within the microbial community of soil. Jan Warmink focussed his study mainly on increasing our understanding of the interactions between the two species in soil. One of the potential bacterial mechanisms allowing these to benefit from the fungal host can be the so-called “type III secretion system (TTSS). This mechanism is often involved in the infection of humans, animals and plants by bacterial pathogens. By Warmink a significant increase was found for TTSS-harbouring bacteria that are under the influence of soil fungi in contrast to those in soil without fungi. According to these findings, bacteria with TTSS have an advantage when associated with soil fungi, in contrast to bacteria lacking this mechanism. Thus, TTSS plays a role in bacterial-fungal interactions in soil, a fact hitherto unknown in the literature.

Warmink’s research also showed the possibility of bacteria to use fungal hyphae for transportation through soil. This property is potentially very important for the biological functioning of soil, as beneficial bacteria can be dispersed in this way. Warmink found strong evidence for a role of TTSS in this bacterial transport. Transport of the beneficial bacteria via fungal hyphae through soil in biocontrol and plant growth promotion stimulation applications can lead to a reduction of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture.
Last modified:15 September 2017 3.38 p.m.
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