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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory » Research » Research Project #440403

Research Project: Leveraging the National Potato Soil Health Project Platform

Location: Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-21000-283-026-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2021
End Date: Jun 30, 2022

Objective:
Soil microbial communities play essential roles in plant and soil health by aiding in plant nutrient acquisition, pathogen inhibition, abiotic stress tolerance, and biogeochemical cycling. The USDA-SCRI-funded National Potato Soil Health project aims to assess soil health within potato production systems across the country with a focus on the relationships of soil microbial communities to potato soil health and productivity. We will generate soil microbial biomass and functional capacity data for a set of samples collected and undergoing soil chemistry and amplicon sequencing analyses within the National Potato Soil Health project. 1. Determine the total bacterial and fungal biomass in soil in year four of the National Potato Soil Health project using phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA) across all n research plots (n = 500 samples). 2. Characterize the functional potential of soil microbiomes in year four of the National Potato Soil Health project using metagenomic sequencing on soil samples collected at pre-planting and 60-days post-planting from the two highest- and two lowest-yielding experimental treatments in the Minnesota and Oregon field sites (n=80 samples).

Approach:
1. Samples from the midseason sample (60 days post-planting) collected in the fourth year of the four-year Potato Soil Health SCRI project will be used for PLFA analysis. PLFA analyses will be performed on all 500 soil samples. The PLFA data generated here will be coupled with that 16S and ITS amplicon sequencing data to perform analyses on the abundance of target populations in relation to geographic regions, management conditions, and, most importantly, potato health and productivity. After quantifying the total microbial abundance across samples using PLFA, the PLFA data will be coupled with amplicon data to generate precise estimates of the quantitative responses of specific microbial populations to diverse management practices across northern U.S. potato growing regions, and their relationships to soil health. 2. Following the end of the season, we will perform metagenomic analyses on pre-plant and 60-day soil samples from the two highest- and two lowest-yielding experimental treatments from both the Minnesota and Oregon field sites in the final year of the national project (two states x two timepoints x four treatments x 5 replicates= 80 samples). Metagenomic sequencing will be performed at the University of Minnesota Genomics Center (UMGC). These results will provide a baseline for metagenomic analyses in potato production systems and lay the framework for future potato microbiome research.