Exploring the link between the diversity of the potato microbiome and potato plant vitality A contribution to the development of a prediction model for potato plant vitality according to its microbiome
Kloe, Emma de
MetadataShow full item record
When considering changing agricultural practices for a sustainable future, potatoes would be a topic of importance as they are the world's fourth most important staple food. After observing varying levels of vitality of the same potato variety, it was hypothesised that the microbiome (the microbial community that lives with its host) of the plants could be responsible, as an optimal microbiome can contribute to plant vitality and fitness. This is why Utrecht University and its collaborating partners are working on a prediction model that could predict the potato plant’s vitality by looking at the microbiome of a batch of seed potatoes. This study hopes to contribute to this project by looking at the diversity of the potato microbiome. The diversity of the plant’s microbiome is suggested to be a key factor for good plant performance and can be influenced by various variables. Therefore, the vitality of six different potato varieties, two soil types and two harvest years were compared in relation to their respective microbial diversities. The statistical analysis was performed focussing on the bacterial data of microbiome species present in the eye compartment of the seed potato tuber. In this study, it was found that the different variables relate differently to the microbial diversity of the potato microbiome and potato plant vitality. Soil type showed no influence on the alpha diversity but it did show to influence the beta diversity greatly. The variety of the potato and its harvest year showed to influence both alpha and beta diversity (two ways to describe species diversity) of the tuber’s microbiome, though there was no link found between the alpha diversity of these variables and the potato plant vitality. Further research is necessary to find out what underlying factors are essential for high plant vitality in order to be able to develop the prediction model.