The projects of Jacquelinne Acuña, Carolina Merino, Cledir Santos and Francisco Matus, who are part of the agronomy group, will each have a duration of four years.
Four academic staff members of the Doctorate in Natural Resource Sciences of the Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO) got the funding for their project proposals in the Regular FONDECYT (“Chilean National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development”) Project competition call 2022 approved. This is another step towards the strengthening of the research of the Doctoral Program.
With its competition calls and by funding individual research projects of excellence, the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development (ANID) seeks to promote scientific and technological research in various fields of knowledge, and this year, UFRO got 14 new Regular FONDECYT Projects approved in the competitive call 2022.
The development of these projects will strengthen the fields of research of the Doctorate in Natural Resource Sciences and directly benefit the human capital trained in this program.
“The current results of the FONDECYT competitions show the impact and importance of our doctoral programs, with four approved Post-Doctoral Projects, one Initiation in Research and two Regular FONDECYT Projects of our program´s graduates who have been strengthening the research of our program and our university with their work,” Dr. Quiroz added.
DEVELOPMENT OF A BIOFUNGICIDE
Dr. Cledir Santos, a researcher of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, is the researcher in charge of the project “Development of a biofungicide from pod extracts of Capsicum annuum L. to prevent mycotoxigenic fungi in wheat production”.
This project seeks to develop a biofungicide from pod extracts of Capsicum annuum L. (hot pepper), irradiated with gamma rays to prevent the development of mycotoxigenic fungi in wheat produced under greenhouse and field conditions in the La Araucanía Region in Chile. This project is based on One Health, an approach where a healthy agricultural production environment, free of synthetic pesticides, will lead to a healthy society, with a better quality of life.
The researcher will receive an amount of 246.028.000 CLP (ca. 305 thousand USD) to carry out his project in cooperation with his national co-investigators of UFRO: Dr. Rodolfo Figueroa, Dr. Pablo Cornejo, Dr. Marjorie Reyes, and Dr. Antonieta Ruíz; the external national co-investigators: Dr. Patricio Sandaña (Universidad Austral), Dr. Patricio Sandaña (Universidad Austral), Dr. Marjorie Reyes, and Dr. Antonieta Ruíz (Universidad Austral), who are part of the academic staff of the Doctorate in Natural Resource Sciences; the external national co-investigator: Dr. Patricio Sandaña (Universidad Austral de Chile); and the foreign co-investigators: Dr. Paola Battilani (Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy), Dr. Nelson Lima (Centro de Engenharia Biológica, Universidade do Minho, Portugal), and Dr. Naresh Magan (Cranfield University, Soil and Agrifood Institute, Great Britain).
INOCULANT TO IMPROVE TOLERANCE TO WATER SCARCITY IN LUPINE PLANTS
Dr. Jacquelinne Acuña, a graduate of the Doctoral Program who is currently working at the Scientific and Technological Bioresource Nucleus (BIOREN-UFRO) is the researcher in charge of the project “Development of intelligent cooperative microbial consortia based on in situ culture and its functional complementarity to improve stress tolerance in lupine plants”.
This study will develop in situ cultures in combination with functional methods and metabolic and genomic trials to explore intelligent cooperative microbial consortia (iCMC) and evaluate their ability to improve the water stress tolerance in lupine plants. First, novel in situ cultivation techniques will be used to isolate naturally co-existing microbial consortia. Then, iCMCs will be selected and observed under greenhouse and field conditions, applying them as inoculants to improve the tolerance to water scarcity. It is expected to gain insights into the interactions that occur in response to stress, allowing to improve the resilience of agricultural production in response to droughts.
The researcher will receive an amount of 223.200.000 CLP (ca. 276 thousand USD) to carry out her project in cooperation with her co-investigators Dr. Shoko Ueki (Okayama University, Japan); Dr. Lukas Wick (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany); Dr. Qiang Zhang (University of Minnesota, USA) and Dr. Haroldo Salvo (Agriaquaculture Nutritional Genomic Center, Chile).
THE NITROGEN CYCLE AND ITS TRANSFORMATION STEPS IN TEMPERATE RAINFOREST SOILS
Dr. Francisco Matus, an academic of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, will receive an amount of 220.000.000 CLP (ca. 274 thousand USD) to carry out his project “Ferrous wheel coupled to nitrate reduction as a mechanism for nitrogen retention in temperate rainforest soils”, in cooperation with his co-investigators: Dr. Carolina Merino (UFRO), Dr. Ignacio Jofré (UFRO), Dr. Felipe Aburto (UDEC/Texas University) and Dr. Roberto Godoy (Universidad Austral, Chile).
This study seeks to understand the nitrogen cycle and its transformation in temperate rainforest soils (forest of Valdivia, Chile), since the nitrogen availability is usually low and greenhouse gas losses are high in these soils. This can partly be explained by the biological reduction of nitrate to ammonium under anaerobic conditions and by the Ferrous Wheel (FW) hypothesis, which has recently been tested in an experiment with soils from the forests of Valdivia. The FW indicates that soluble iron, which appears to be high in these soils, is able to act on the N-mineral by fixing it as organic nitrogen and preventing this nitrogen from accumulating in the soil and being released into water currents and lost as greenhouse gases. The FW hypothesis will be assessed under field conditions, in soils derived from different parent materials, with different iron and nitrogen levels. 15N stable isotopes will be applied as natural tracers, in order to determine at what rate and how much nitrogen is accumulated in the different organic nitrogen reserves in the soil. The researchers expect to find high levels of nitrogen fixation in organic compounds. This could contribute in the process of carbon sequestration, with important implications for this kind of ecosystems and climate change mitigation.
COMPLEMENTARY MECHANISMS OF SOIL ORGANIC MATTER (SOM) OXIDATION AND GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) EMISSIONS
Dr. Carolina Merino, a graduate of the Doctoral program who is currently working at the Scientific and Technological Bioresource Nucleus (BIOREN-UFRO), got her project “Biotic and abiotic oxidation mechanisms of organic matter in humid temperate forest soils in fluctuating redox microsites” approved.
She will receive an amount of 220.000.000 CLP (ca. 274 thousand USD) to carry out her project in cooperation with Dr. Francisco Matus (UFRO), Dr. Ignacio Jofré (UFRO), Dr. Felipe Aburto (UDEC/Texas University) and Dr. José Dorner (Universidad Austral, Chile).
The main purpose of this project is to study the complementary mechanisms of soil organic matter (SOM) oxidation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in soil microsites, through abiotic (e.g. Fenton reaction) and biotic (e.g. mineral oxidizing/reducing microorganisms) interactions in humid temperate forests in southern Chile (mean annual precipitation of 1,700 - 8,000 mm). These mechanisms could explain the high rate of soil organic carbon (COS) mineralization, challenging the traditional approach, according to which the mineralization under the anoxic condition of these soils is significantly low.
Thus, the Doctorate in Natural Resource Sciences got a high number of projects approved in the competitive FONDECYT calls 2022, with four Post-Doctoral Projects of the program’s graduates Cecilia Paredes, Claudia Sanhueza, Isis Vega and Karla Araya, one Initiation in Research Project (Paola Fincheria) and three Regular Projects (Jacquelinne Acuña, Carolina Merino and Sebastián Meier). In addition to that, one Initiation in Research Project (Javier Espinoza) and two Regular FONDECYT Projects (Cledir Santos and Francisco Matus) of academic staff members of the Doctorate were approved.
Written by: Doctorate in Natural Resource Sciences, UFRO