Microbial eco-compatible strategies for improving wheat quality traits and rhizospheric soil sustainability - MIC-CERES

This project funded by Agropolis and Cariplo fondations aims at characterizing the wheat response to colonisation by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and symbiotic beneficial bacteria (SBB), with a view to using them as natural biofertilizers and bioprotectors in integrated strategies for wheat cultivation.

Date de début de projet :


Date de fin du projet :



The purpose of this project is to characterize the response of wheat to colonisation by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and symbiotic beneficial bacteria (SBB), with a view to using them as natural biofertilizers and bioprotectors in integrated strategies for wheat cultivation.

This project will provide benefits in three broad areas:

  1. improvement of wheat growth, health, yield, nutrient-use efficiency, and adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses
  2. innovation in wheat cultivation and reduction of dependence on external inputs, while maintaining the production of high quality grains
  3. improvement of soil health and environmental sustainability and meeting the demands for resilient agricultural production systems


France, Italy, Senegal, Cameroon


The plant model chosen for this project is bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L. subsp. aestivum), one of the most important sources for food, animal feed, and industrial raw materials. Currently, wheat provides 21% of the dietary calories and 20% of dietary protein for more than 4.5 billion people in 94 developing countries. If bread wheat is highly important for EU economy, with France and Italy being among the top 5 wheat producing EU countries, the demand for wheat in Africa has been steadily rising, largely due to a massive urban immigration of residents who need a food source that is convenient to buy, cook, and store.

However, there have been declines in wheat production and productivity in major growing areas of the world, largely due to the adverse effects of climate change, soil salinization, and limited water availability. Moreover, wheat productivity is highly dependent on fertilizer additions, particularly phosphate (P) and nitrogen (N), with wheat being not efficient to take up N, and most applied N is lost by leaching from the soil, leading to significant negative ecological impacts.

There is growing interest in the use of AMF and SBB to improve productivity and resilience of agricultural systems world-wide. However appropriate sampling and knowledge of microbial inoculation impact (in different combinations) on plant development and grain yield are required for wheat, as well as a better knowledge of the wheat response to these microbes.

MIC-CERES is structured into five work packages (WPs), in which there is a sequential integration of activities.

  • WP1 aims to profile the microbiotes associated to the roots of wheat in soils of different countries (France, Italy, Senegal, Cameroon)
  • WP2 aims to characterize the plant growing promoting (PGP) potentials and the biocontrol properties of AMF and SBB in wheat under low input conditions
  • WP3 aims to characterize the molecular wheat responses to beneficial microbes
  • WP4 is a final validation step of the results from the previous WPs, and aims to generate wheat plants with tailored rhizosphere and to develop field trials in different agro-eco-social-systems in Cameroon, Senegal, France, and Italy
  • WP5 aims to promote the international visibility of the project and the research team and to invest in the scientific training of young people



  • UMR Interactions of Plants-Microorganisms-Environment (Montpellier, France): L. Moulin (coordinator of French groups, ex UMR LSTM)
  • University of Insubria (Varese, Italy): M. Bracale (coordinator of Italian groups)
  • University of Torino (Torino, Italy): P. Bonfante
  • CRA-GPG, Genomics Research Center (Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Italy): V. Terzi
  • UMR Microbial Ecology (EM, Villeurbanne, France): F. Wisniewski-Dyé (UCBL I)
  • UMR Resistance of Plants to Bioagressors (RPB, Montpellier, France): R. Koebnik (IRD)


  • Common laboratory of Microbiology (LCM, Dakar, Senegal): D. Diouf (UCAD)
  • Institute of Agronomic Research and Development (IRAD, Yaounde, Cameroon): E.L. Ngonkeu Mangaptche (IRAD)


ABIP group (UMR IPME; ex DEARS group, UMR LSTM)

G. Béna (IRD), A. Klonowska (IRD), L. Moulin (IRD, coordinator of project on French side), M.I. Stets (Postdoctoral researcher, IRD)


The MIC-CERES project is funded by Agropolis Fondation (from Investissement d’avenir program, funded by ANR-10-LABX-0001-01 ) and by Fondazione Cariplo (call CERES in 2013)

Résultats Marquants

The official project start was 1st of March 2014, following the kick-off meeting that was held on 27 and 28 of February 2014.

 Main results and updates will be given at the end of each year.

Publications & Communications

not yet available

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