Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #437918

Research Project: Evaluating the Influence of Beneficial Microbes on Crop Quality in the Nursery and Greenhouse Industry

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-001-027-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Jun 30, 2025

Objective 1: To characterize microbial diversity in current greenhouse and nursery production systems to include different substrate components. Objective 2: To determine the influence of different cultural inputs (fertilizer quantity and type, irrigation, plant growth regulators, etc) on microbial biodiversity in containerized growing systems. Objective 3: To screen the Cooperator's greenhouse microbe collection for bacteria that can increase nutrient and water use efficiency and increase plant stress tolerance. Objective 4: To create microbial consortia that will improve crop quality, abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in a broad range of nursery and greenhouse crops.

Objectives 1 & 2: A few model greenhouse and nursery crops will be produced under current greenhouse and nursery production systems. Cultural inputs and environmental conditions that will be evaluated will include different substrate components, fertilizer rate and composition, irrigation type and amount, and plant growth regulator applications (plant growth retardants and ethephon). The effect of these different production system inputs on the microbial diversity in greenhouse and nursery containerized crops will be determined. Once all plants have reached the marketable stage, flower number (if applicable) and vegetative dry biomass will be recorded as indicators of plant performance. A portable photosynthesis system will be used to measure gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence to determine changes in plant health and stress responses resulting from the different treatments. Tissue nutrient analysis will be done by Cooperator After phenotypic analysis, we will perform destructive sampling to isolate total rhizosphere DNA for microbiome profiling The diversity of bacteria inhabiting different environments will be determined through 16S rRNA gene- based microbiome profiling. Objective 3 & 4: Greenhouse experiments will be conducted to identify bacteria that can enhance growth when plants are produced.