Microbes for sustainable agriculture
As climate change aggravates droughts, the need for crop irrigation intensifies, leading to the expansion of the agricultural areas affected by soil salinisation. Soil salinity is a major abiotic stressor, which affects plant growth and development.
Dania Randi, doctoral candidate at the Vienna Doctoral School in Microbiology and Environmental Science (VDS-MES), is curious about the mechanisms of plant resilience: She investigates, in particular, how the root-associated microbiome of salt-stressed plants helps them and to which extent the plants can modify it to suit their needs: "I want to characterize this microbiome and understand how the microbes living close to the plant roots help the plants endure such conditions of stress."
15 Vienna Doctoral Schools. Since 2020.
Since 2020, the Vienna Doctoral Schools provide excellent conditions including team supervision and various funding possibilities that enable the realisation of international competitive research. In the doctoral schools, doctoral candidates find an active and inspiring research environment, a vibrant doctoral community and many ways to connect with peers from home and abroad on a social and professional level.
To do this, the young researcher spends a lot of time in the lab: "Here I am working with soil, I am extracting the root-associated microbes from the plant roots and I am developing new cultivation methods." Another important aspect is preliminary data analysis, which helps her figure out how to proceed with the experiments. "I also really appreciate working in the group and being helped by my colleagues as well as being able to help them in their projects," Randi says.
Global warming and food safety
We are currently facing a very challenging environment, "and food safety is a topic that has become very important in this decade and will be even more important in the upcoming decades because of global warming," Randi emphasises. "To ensure that we still have crops to eat, we need to understand plants really well and we need to understand every factor that helps them endure the increasing environmental stress."
The PhD candidate really enjoys being part of the Vienna Doctoral School in Microbiology and Environmental Science. "Here, I am surrounded by many experts in different fields and I truly believe that it is this interdisciplinary approach that is essential for solving our environmental issues." Together with all of her colleagues, Dania Randi hopes to contribute to a more sustainable agricultural future.