New biofertilization approach based on the microbial multispecies biocatalytic aggregates




01. October 2022 - 30. September 2025


0,05 FTE


Špela Zupančič


4.03 Biotechnical sciences / Plant production

Research Organisation:







Soil quality is decreasing worldwide, due to erosion and intensive use of farmland. Crop plants are not adapted to reduced nutrient content, which is why we need to develop novel soil fertilization approaches delivering nutrients to the vicinity of the roots. In alpine oligotrophic soils mineral-weathering microbes accumulate in “hotspots” in the rhizosphere, in order to increase their efficiency and speed up the mineral dissolution process. Simulating this system, we will implement artificial encapsulation and immobilization of a microbial consortium incorporating mineral-weathering rhizobacteria, N2-fixators, degraders of olysaccharides, and strains for plant biocontrol, The bacteria will be immobilized onto surfaces of carriers to study their effect on nutrient release into the soil and promotion of plant growth.Inoculation of bacteria into an agricultural systems is not simple and straightforward, but mostly inefficient, due to washing off, preadtion and competition. To solve these problems, we are proposing an approach, where the bacterial cells are locally concentrated by immobilization onto a protective carriers, mineral and organic, to form artificial nutrient-weathering "hotspots". Techniques like layer-by-layer (LBL) electrostatic deposition of charged polyelectrolytes and conventional entrapment into a polymer matrix will be implemented to modify the cell surface and to encapsulate and immobilize the cells. The proposed study will advance the general scientific knowledge on weathering bacteria, bacterial cell physiology and plant-microbe interactions, particularly by gaining more insight on the characteristics of the cell surface, cell division, growth and activity, bacterial cell-surface interactions and bacterial promotion of plant growth. The value of the proposed work is ground setting, will form the basis for future applicative solutions and will be transferable to other fields, like industrial biotechnology and medicine.



Bibliographical references, arising directly from the implementation of the project:


Financed by:

Research projects (co)funded by the Slovenian Research Agency.