Microorganisms play a key role in numerous ecosystems, including agriculture. An intact microbial community as well as the diversity of microbial functions and metabolic processes are important for the stability and sustainability of agricultural systems. Molecular biological techniques allow us to describe and quantify microorganisms in genetic terms, as well as to record the complexity of microbial communities and their functions.
Modern genetic diagnostic methods not only allow the reliable identification of agriculturally important organisms; they also enable the genetic characterisation of relevant traits, such as pesticide- and antibiotic resistance. In this project, methods of this sort are developed for on-site use, opening up new possibilities for modern plant protection.
Microbial biodiversity is huge, and our current understanding of the subject is still inadequate. This also holds true for fermented foods such as cheeses or raw, cured sausages, especially when they are manufactured without heat treatment and with starter cultures composed of undefined and diverse microorganisms (MOs). This research project aims to understand the biodiversity of the MOs used and to develop scientific principles for making targeted use of and preserving said biodiversity.