Soil features an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem of microbial life, including species in intricate interaction with the rhizosphere, the root-influenced section of soil. A subset of these bacterial species displays an intricate epiphytic lifestyle bound as biofilms to the root’s surface.
As such, also members of the Bacillus subtilis core group, a prolific source of plant-beneficial strains with abiotic and biotic stress-protective properties, inhabit the root’s surface as epiphytes. Biofilm formation of B. subtilis is a process influenced by cellular differentiation, intraspecific communication, and the environment. How biofilm formation in the rhizosphere is regulated by changes in environmental heterogeneity of soil, the root’s characteristic microenvironments, and interactions between bacterial cell types is critical for our understanding of root colonization and lastly maintenance of root-bacteria interaction - A process hidden in the soil environment.
Therefore, in my Ph.D. project, I develop soil-on-a-chip devices utilizing microfluidics and 3D-printing technology to allow high-resolution dynamic imaging of root colonization by B. subtilis on the root system of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.