Department of Biology
Type of project
Type of project
Basic research project
01.10.2021 - 30.09.2024
Project manager at BFRegvar Marjana
Harvested grain is frequently colonized by field fungi, some known as mycotoxin producers, which compromise their use as food and feed. In the case of buckwheat grain, current grain management practices include drying and storage at low humidity conditions to reduce grain spoilage risks. The development of new directions in grain production and post-harvest management will require an in-depth understanding of biological systems and the introduction of innovative state-of-the-art technologies. Grain microbial communities can be tailored to encourage the prevalence of beneficial organisms resulting in improved grain quality. However, factors affecting grain diversity are still not thoroughly understood. Environmental conditions are one of the factors shaping the fungal diversity of harvested grain. We hypothesize that buckwheat biomolecules (phenols, flavonoids) shape fungal diversity and dynamics within the grain microbiome. Therefore, we propose to analyse factors affecting fungal diversity and dynamics (endophyte antagonists, phenolics) using buckwheat grain microbiome as a model system. We expect that improved knowledge on diversity components shaping fungal communities will enable us to optimize grain decontamination protocols using non-thermal plasma technology and reduce risks of grain spoilage.
The phases of the project and their realization
1: Components of fungal diversity of buckwheat grain microbiome: Grain microbial communities can be tailored to encourage the prevalence of beneficial organisms resulting in improved grain quality. However, fungal diversity and factors affecting fungal communities in buckwheat grain are far from understood. In the frame of this project, we will determine fungal diversity of buckwheat grain and challenge the stability of fungal communities. The task will be completed in 36 months.
2: Antimicrobial potential of buckwheat biomolecules: Buckwheat hulls are more contaminated with aflatoxins than inner grain, indicating their role as protective shielding. Also, phenolic compounds were demonstrated to decrease mycotoxins' occurrence in grain. Detrimental effects of buckwheat biomolecules on selected microbial species have the potential for their use as pesticides of botanical origin. Additional information on the mechanisms by which biomolecules act on elected fungal pathogens and shape grain microbiome will improve our understanding of antifungal activity in plants. The research will be done in collaboration with colleagues from Jožef Stefan Institute, Dept. of Low and Medium Energy Physics. The task will be completed in 36 months.
3: The effects of non-thermal plasma (NTP) on buckwheat grain and its microbiome: Alternative approaches for microbial control are urgently required to adequately address the persistent contamination, spoilage, and safety issues in the food and agriculture sectors. Conditions of NTP need to be tailored to improve its toxicity to fungal endophytes while sustaining seed vitality and plant establishment. The research will be done in collaboration with colleagues from Jožef Stefan Institute, Dept. of Surface Engineering and Optoelectronics. The task will be completed in 36 months.
4: Project management: The package is dedicated to the continuous exchange of information between team members, assessing the progress in achieving project goals, and disseminating the results throughout the project.
Research project team