Lee Mai

Lee Mai

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology


PhD researcher who working on the effect of microbiome surrounding plants especially agave in plant growth and soil nutrient content. My thesis is supervised by Prof. Rachel Burton, Dr. Mattias Solomon, and Prof. Timothy Cavagnaro.

The rise in average global temperature due to climate change is likely to impact traditional crop varieties and this has fuelled the need to discover new crops that are more resilient. South Australia (SA) is the driest state in Australia with large arid and semi-arid zones and while wheat, wine, and wool are the principal primary industries and make up a large proportion of the state’s exports, new crops which can thrive in drought conditions and expand the State’s productivity would be valuable.

The microbiome or phytomicrobiome surrounding a plant is reported to play a significant role in plant health and productivity. However, there is a dearth of understanding as to what those microorganisms are and how they function. Mycorrhizal fungi, particularly arbuscular mycorrhizas, create one of the most important interfaces of the plant kingdom, providing a niche for interaction between plant roots and microorganisms. By forming mycorrhiza symbiosis, such communities survive at the plant surfaces and contribute to the adaption, health, and growth of their host. Therefore, an increased understanding of the relationship between the mulching regime, the function of microorganisms, and plant productivity is crucial to successfully commercialise bioproducts from plants.

My research aims to improve the understanding of the relationship between plants, soil, and microbiome communities surrounding which lead to improvement of plant growth, sugar content, soil nutrients.


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