Date palm roots, like roots of other plants, host many microorganisms including bacteria and fungi. These microbial communities can have both favorable and unfavorable effects on the date palm's health and production. For this reason, the effect of the nitrogen source in the fertilizer on microbial communities and metabolomics is being studied. In this project we will use state-of-the-art metagenomic approaches to analyze the microbial communities present in the rhizosphere under different fertilization regimes. Also the effect of the roots of different cultivars on the microbial diversity will be addressed. The metabolomic analysis will be carried out by another research team. An experiment is being carried out at the Roudat Alfars Research Farm of the Ministry of Environment. Four different fertilization regimes were applied in which the nitrogen sources were either mineral or organic in three replications (3 palms) on cultivar Khalas. Three more cultivars were used to examine the cultivar's effect on rhizosphere microbial communities. The evaluation of the effect of the nitrogen source on the microbial diversity in the rhizosphere will be carried out for one year. The first samples (roots and soil) were collected for metagenomic analysis. Sampling will be carried out every three months. Palms were also genotyped using 23 microsatellite primers for confirmation of their identity. Results showed no differences in genotyping between the 12 Khalas palms used. Four protocols for DNA extraction for metagenomic analysis are being tested. The most suitable protocol will be standardized to extract the DNA from all samples. Different primers for PCR reactions and high-throughput DNA sequencing will be used in the coming year for microbial identification. They will also be used to find microorganisms with potential for agricultural practice such as nitrogen and phosphorus fixation, and antimicrobial and pesticidal effects.


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