Doctor Simranjit Kaur


Graduate PhD 2023

Thesis Title

Developing Effective Plant-Optimised Microbial Tools to Increase Cotton Productivity

Research Project

Plant-associated microbiomes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, oomycetes, and cyanobacteria) have a significant impact on the physiology and performance of the plant and there is an increasing need to harness plant-microbe interactions to optimise crop growth and yield in an environmentally sustainable way. Beneficial plant-associated bacterial and fungal taxa are known to shape plant microbiome, nutrient availability, plant growth and suppression of pathogenesis via antibiosis, signalling molecules, protein secretion and by eliciting plant immune response. Due to multifaceted growth impacts, plant-associated microbes are considered a viable source for biofertilisers and biocontrol agents. Yet, our fundamental understanding remains limited regarding microbial inoculant interaction with host plant and pathogens, besides the impact of inoculated consortia on plant and rhizosphere (area around plant roots) microbiome. This knowledge gap hinders the large-scale adoption of microbial tools in farming practices. Fusarium oxysporum f.spp. vasinfectum (FOV) and Verticillium dahliae wilt diseases are major threats to profitability and sustainability of the Australian cotton farming industry. Currently, no effective chemical and management control available for these fungal pathogens. This project aims to develop effective microbial tools to improve crop performance and better manage Fusarium and Verticillium wilts in cotton farms.

The aims of the project are:

  1. To examine the efficacy of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria as consortia to enhance seed germination, plant growth/yield and effect on rhizosphere microbial community structure.
  2. To isolate and characterise novel wilt disease suppressive (biocontrol) and plant growth-promoting microbes from root/shoot of the cotton plant
  3. To test the efficiency of wilt suppressive bacterial/fungal biocontrol consortia under glasshouse conditions

Professor Brajesh K. Singh, Dr Catriona Macdonald and Dr Eleonora Egidi


Kaur S, Egidi E, Qiu Z, Macdonald CA, Verma JP, Trivedi P, Wang J, Liu H, Singh BK, (2022) 'Synthetic community improves crop performance and alters rhizosphere microbial communities', Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and Environment,  vol.1, no.2, pp 118-131

Qiu Z, Verma JP, Liu H, Wang J, Batista BD, Kaur S, de Araujo Pereira, AP, Macdonald CA, Trivedi P, Weaver T, Conaty WC, Tissue DT, Singh BK, (2022) 'Response of the plant core microbiome to Fusarium oxysporum infection and identification of the pathobiome', Environmental Microbiology, vol.24, no.10, pp 4652 - 4669

Qiu ZG, Egidi E, Liu HW, Kaur S, Singh BK, (2019) 'New frontiers in agriculture productivity: Optimised microbial inoculants and in situ microbiome engineering', Biotechnology Advances, vol.37, no.6, Article no.107371