The plant root-soil microbe interaction is critical to plant health and economic yield, however, due to its nature has been very difficult to study. Recent breakthroughs in next generation sequencing and metabolomics, together with the recent development of the first cDNA microarray for soil microbial communities by Professor Schenk’s group, have provided a great opportunity to understand this interaction at both the genetic and biochemical level. 

Professor Schenk and his team are using a holistic approach to identify targets and develop bioactives for controlling/stimulating plant-soil microbe interactions. The group simultaneously analyses plant gene expression, plant-microbe chemical interactions, and microbial community gene expression (metatranscriptomics). The innovative methods being deployed by Professor Schenk and his team have opened new doors into understanding the soil microbe communities, their interactions with plants, and how to leverage this knowledge to improve crop production. Important novel genes and compounds are being identified and evaluated for their ability to improve soil health and increase resistance to soil pathogens and disease through plant-soil microbe interactions.