Wei San Wong
Thesis: Soil-microbial-plant signals and effects on plant eco-physiological performance for mine site restoration
Globally, the importance of soil biological properties, such as microbial composition, and the benefits they confer to soils and plants were often undervalued in mine site restoration. Microorganisms have been widely reported to be beneficial for agricultural crops. These benefits include growth stimulation, increased nutrient uptake, plant tolerance against abiotic stress such as drought etc., which are induced by microbial signals, such as phytohormones and enzymes. Some of these beneficial microorganisms are also present in natural soil systems and may confer similar benefits via various microbial signals such as phytohormones, phytohoromone precursors or metabolites that have yet to be identified. Furthermore these microorganisms may play an important role in rebuilding ecosystems, particularly in stressful post mining situations, however this is to be determined. This thesis will ask whether microorganisms with similar abilities can be identified and isolated from the Western Australian systems. It will examine the mechanisms involved in the positive effects of microorganisms on plants, and explore how these findings can be integrated to improve mine site restoration strategies.
Why my research is important
Studies reporting on the beneficial effects of microorganisms on growth and drought resistance relating to Australian non-agricultural plants are limited. Also, little is known about the mechanisms behind these benefits. Studies on the mechanisms behind these benefits have come mainly from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and agricultural crops. Much of the positive interactions between microorganisms and native Western Australian plants and the mechanisms behind these interactions remain to be elucidated.
This project will shed light on the global soil microbe functional capability, and revolutionize soil management practices such as rejuvenating disturbed or degraded soil.