Plenary Lecture

The Joint Effect of Essential Oils and Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungus on Microbial Community and Enzymatic Activities in Soil

Professor Efimia M. Papatheodorou
Department of Ecology, School of Biology
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Abstract: The majority of plants are involved in symbiotic relations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). The colonization of plants by the symbionts affects a variety of processes taking place around the rhizosphere such the quality and the quantity of the plant root exudates, the structure of the microbial communities, the chemotactic responses of specific bacteria etc. Also, due to the interactions of AM fungi with members of the rhizosphere microbial community, AMF have been used in sustainable agriculture as biofertilizers. Moreover, essentials oils or their ingredients alone are used as natural fungicides or bioherbicides in sustainable agriculture projects. Essential oils are incorporated into soil in the form of plant material or as extracts and they act selectively to members of the microbial community; some microbes used them as carbon sources while for some others the effects are on the negative. Our research aimed to explore the joint effect of inoculation with Glomus intraradices fungus and essential oil of Mentha spicata (spearmint) leaves on the community profiles of free-living microbes. The effects were explored at the pre-symbiotic and the symbiotic phase in a tomato pot experiment. At the pre-symbiotic phase, the two agents (inoculation and essential oil) induced diverging effects on the composition of the soil microbial community. In the jointly-treated pots a new microbial community was recorded compared to those in the singly treated pots, suggesting non-synergistic effects of these two agents. Therefore, we assumed that the two agents could not be used concurrently.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: My research focuses on the response of soil subsystem to anthropogenic interventions such as grazing, extensive farming, desertification, pollution. The quality of soil is evaluated in terms of soil microbial community structure and function. Soil enzymatic activities are used as reliable indicators of soil functionality, since most soil functions which are necessary for enhanced soil fertility are mediated by enzymes. I am also interesting on the ecosystem services provided by terrestrial areas and the actions by which the terrestrial degraded areas could be restored. I teach the courses of population and community ecology, terrestrial ecology, restoration of natural ecosystems and ecotourism at graduated and post-graduated level. I recently became a Director of an MSc programme entitles “Sustainable Agriculture and Business”. I have been involved in various EU and National projects; in some of them as coordinator. From 1999 to 2005 I was a member of the Editorial Board (Managing Editor) of the electronic peer review journal “Web Ecology” supported by the European Ecological Federation. I am external reviewer in various Science Citation Impact (SCI) Journals.

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