Katerina Efthymiou

Katerina Efthymiou

Research Assistant

PhD project: PSM (Phosphate Solubilizing Microorganisms)-solubilization of inorganic phosphorus in gasified waste products: molecular mechanisms and role of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) in phosphorus transfer to plants

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for plant growth and development, however most soils are deficient in P forms directly available for plants. The demand for P fertilizers will be increased in the future, since P is a non-renewable resource and the projected climate changes, as well as increasing population, will drive agricultural production into areas of low P fertility. On the other hand, increasing amounts of wastes rich in organic phosphate are generated, which are neither appropriately recycled nor utilized, thus resulting in a loss of energy and resources. Phosphate solubilizing microorganisms (PSM) can transform P into forms readily absorbable by plants. This process is hypothesized to be further enhanced by the arbuscular mycorhizal (AM) symbiosis between AM fungi and plants. PSM can potentially increase the available P in ashes, the resulting products from the gasification of wastes.

This project is an integrated part of a larger project called “Microbial fertilizers for enhanced crop availability of phosphorus pools in soils and waste – novel strategies for sustainable bio-based food production (MiCroP)” and focuses on the identification of PSM(s) that can solubilize inorganic P in waste-derived ashes alone and in combination with AMF, the identification of the optimal conditions for the selected PSM to solubilize P from ashes, the elucidation of molecular mechanisms underlying the PSM activity and the assessment of the performance and persistence of ash/PSM/AMF combination in field conditions. 

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