Current conventional agriculture relies heavily on high nutrient inputs as well as massive use of pesticides. Therefore, conventional practices have resulted in low nutrient use efficiencies, groundwater pollution and increased soil erosion.
PotatoMETAbiome relies on the principle that plants naturally interact with beneficial (soil) microbes, making them less dependent on synthetic inputs. The greater the belowground diversity in the soil the better the prospects of plant roots to recruit beneficial microbes to mobilise nutrients, reduce stresses and suppress pathogens. This approach will be particularly beneficial for potato cultivation where many varieties have underdeveloped root systems and are susceptible to pests and other environmental stress factors. This project aims at identifying potato genotypes that interact effectively with the soil microbiome, thus generating cultivars that have reduced dependencies on external inputs (synthetic fertilisers and pesticides) while maintaining high yield, under non-stress as well as biotic (pathogen pressure) and abiotic stress conditions.