Jiayu Li


PhD Candidate

Thesis Title

Plant and Soil Microbiome Interactions

Research Project

Jiayu LiDrought causes much loss of productivity in Australia. Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria/ rhizofungi were applied as bioinoculants in crops to promote their growth and alleviate biotic and abiotic stresses, however their performance on different Australian wheat cultivars remains unclear. Additionally, root-associated microbial communities play a crucial part in maintaining plant growth and health. Drought may affect root-associated microbial communities by modulating soil properties or plant root exudates. Current studies usually identify the PGPR from stressed plants to explore microbial traits that are more likely beneficial to plant growth and potentially selected by plants. Legacy effects are effects that persist after the causal biotic interaction ceases, because plant traits and soil characteristics are plastic and modifications may be maintained for long time periods. Both plant and environmental factors can influence soil biological and physiochemical properties, and some of them generate legacy effects that affect the plant offspring growing in the same soil. Drought stress can have long‐lasting legacy effects on plant growth and ecosystem functioning via decreasing soil microbial biomass and limit soil C and N cycling and plant primary productivity.

In my project, I aim to:

  1. To identify the impacts of plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria/rhizofungi (PGPR) isolates and products on wheat performance and identify the biological mechanisms by which products/microbial isolates increase wheat fitness and/or enhance their resilience against drought stress.
  2. To study the difference in microbial recruitment by different wheat varieties under drought and normal conditions.
  3. To isolate and identify the key microbes preferentially recruited by wheats under drought conditions.
  4. To investigate the legacy effects of drought-induced microbial changes on wheat using a combined method of plant assay and study the structure and functions of the plant microbiomes.

Liu H, Qiu Z, Ye J, Verma JP, Li J, Singh BK (2022) 'Effective colonisation by a bacterial synthetic community promotes plant growth and alters soil microbial community', Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and Environment, vol.1, no.1, pp 30-42


Professor Brajesh K. Singh, Dr Catriona Macdonald and Dr Juntao Wang