The effects of renewable fertilizer on wheat root morphology

4 minute read

Picture of wheat field

Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for plant nutrition and its scarcity is one of the major restraints in agricultural crop production. However, mineral rock phosphate P fertilizers are poorly accessed by plants and unused residues result in a run-off that pollutes the groundwater, as well as being a finite resource, still irreplaceable today.

The details

Microalgae have been shown to reabsorb and accumulate P from the contaminated water. P-enriched algal biomass revealed fertilizing potential on the agronomical highly important crop plant wheat (Triticum aestivum) in preliminary experiments (Schreiber et al. 2018).

This project aims to gain an understanding of how wheat roots access and take up P released by algal biomass. The plants will be subjected to various experimental conditions, taking into account the growth phases and growth media, as well as the microbial colonisation of the root-soil interface, to compare the effects of algal‐derived and mineral P fertilisers.

Differences will be addressed using methods such as high‐throughput phenotyping analyses including microscopic practices and MRI application, as well as expression analyses using quantitative RT‐PCR and mass‐spectrometry‐based metabolomics.

Graduate researcher profile: Lisa Mau


I studied Biology and fulfilled both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg focusing on the physiology and molecular biology of the root system of Arabidopsis thaliana.

My work in Jülich is mainly focused on the cereal root systems phenotypical responses to algal fertilizer in comparison to mineral fertilizer. Since I am focusing on the recycling of phosphorus via microalgae, the uptake and transition of phosphate during these responses will also be addressed. My work in Melbourne will mainly focus on understanding the algal effect on the plant by metabolomics analyses.

My main scientific goal is to establish a puzzle piece towards a sustainable approach for future agriculture, hopefully emphasizing the role of the root system. I enjoy scientific discussions, solving problems and completing experiments. In my spare time l like to swim, to read a good book or to prepare a tasty course, but I also enjoy to create things with my hands like painting.


Supervision team

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