Photo credit: Ritesh Melawal
APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Laboratory and field study of plant microbiomes for improved plant sustainability and yield
- Cost effective and easy to use
- Enables non-destructive, reproducible experiments
- Can be sealed during experiment cycle to decrease possibility of contamination
- Requires very small volume of plant growth media
- Can be integrated with microscopic imaging and with NIMS imaging
Microbiomes play significant roles in all aspects of life, and environmental microbial communities can govern global nutrient cycles, including the carbon and nitrogen cycles, and food production. A greater understanding of plant-microbe-soil interactions in the rhizosphere could lead to solutions that improve the sustainability and yield of agricultural practices.
To address this need, Trent Northen and Jian Gao of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have designed an ecosystem fabrication (EcoFAB) plant growth chamber in SolidWorks. The EcoFAB provides a platform to study laboratory model ecosystems that allows for controlled, replicated laboratory experiments from which researchers can spatially collect soil / microbe samples in the plant rhizosphere and observe root-microbe interactions non-destructively.
EcoFAB consists of a root chamber for the root of the plant to growth, inlet / outlet channels, and a plant reservoir for the shoot of the plant to growth. The inlet channel introduces the liquid medium and microbes into the root chamber and the outlet channel collects plant exudates and metabolites from plant-microbe interactions. The liquid medium capacity ranges from 1.5 mL to 5 mL and can reach larger volumes, depending on the plant size. EcoFAB can be used in various plant species and forms of growth media and with NIMS imaging and independent growth light.
The LBNL technology addresses shortcomings with current research approaches. Specifically, methods based on field studies are complicated, and scientists are uncertain if studies based on laboratory consortia can be extrapolated to field communities.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Prototype
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Gao, J., Sasse, J., Lewald, K., Zhalnina, K., Commesser, L., Duncombe, T., Yoshikuni, Y., Vogel, J., Firestone, M., Northen, T. “Ecosystem Fabrication (EcoFAB) Protocols for The Construction of Laboratory Ecosystems Designed to Study Plant-microbe Interactions,” Jove, Issue 134, April 10, 2018.
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 15/963,887 (Publication # 2018-0312800). Available for licensing or collaborative research.