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VolCorn – Volatilome of a Cereal Crop-Microbiota System under Drought and Flooding


2019 - 2022

Climate change challenges global crop production on different levels, e.g. by an increased frequency of weather extremes which eventually result in plant abiotic stress factors like drought and flooding.

Cooperation Partners

Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenfosrschung (IPK)
Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftforschung (ZALF)
Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv)

This potentially compromises the yield of crop production. VolCorn aims to deal with this problem in an interdisciplinary approach, involving combined expertise of four different institutions of the Leibniz association (iDiv, IGZ, IPK, ZALF).

VolCorn will elucidate interactions between wheat, one of the globally most important cash crops, and its associated microbiota, especially arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), under the influence of induced drought and flooding events. The center of the studies focuses around the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by the plant and the microbiota. VOCs are known to play an important role in plant-plant and plant-microbe interactions as well as in herbivore defence mechanisms. VOC patterns emitted by the plant-microbe holobiont are not well understood yet due to their quantity as well as high dynamics and a lack of evident associations to specific organisms or metabolic processes. However, it is known that VOC patterns are highly dynamic and influenced by both abiotic and biotic environmental changes. VolCorn aims to contribute to the understanding how key single VOCs as well as complex VOC patterns reflect the response of wheat with or without AMF to drought and flooding events and if they could be used to support plant beneficial microbiota and hence enhance wheat productivity.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Steffen Kolb (ZALF, Humboldt University Berlin)


  Photo: Cameris/

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