Latest SCI publications
Studying the effect of variable temperature and CO2 air enrichment on changes in the nutritive value of orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata L.) in permanent grassland
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-03-01 - 2020-02-29
The main objective of this study is to investigate the impact of elevating temperature and CO2 air concentration on the nutritive value of Dactylis glomerata L. growing in permanent grassland managed under cutting. Changes in nutritive value is mainly supported by plant related measurements like development state determination, leaf to stem proportion, and their synchrony in relation to maturity & response to the simulated biotic stress condition. These relevant information are useful to understand changes in plant morphology, phenology and forage quality, as a result of a changing climate. Predicting the response of the forage crop to stress conditions will help to adjust management practices, determine the optimum harvest date at the proper stage of maturity to achieve highest nutritive value, which will be positively reflected on the animal’s performance. This will end up with a profitable, environmentally friendly grassland-based dairy production system.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-06-01 - 2021-05-31
The application of biologic soil additives based on beneficial microbes is an interesting and durable alternative to existing fertilizing methods. A mixture of beneficial microbes will be developed, optimized to control the fungal genus Fusarium. Fusarium diseases on small grain cereals (Fusarium head blight, FHB) and on maize (Fusarium ear rot, FER) are one of the most relevant problems in agriculture. FHB and FER induce yield losses but of main concern are quality losses due to contamination of the grain with mycotoxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Maximum toxin content in food is worldwide regulated. To date, no effective control of FHB/FER is possible: an integrated approach with proper soil preparation, crop rotation, use of fungicides and resistant plant varieties is advised but innovative control strategies are urgently needed. Fusarium causing FHB and FER can only survive in intact infected crop debris on which the fungus produces spores in the next spring. The spores can reach the flowering cereal or maize ear where infection can occur. The development of a preventive microbial soil or plant additive reducing the production of spores on crop debris or increasing plant resistance is a promising approach to control Fusarium. By reducing inoculum, infection pressure and probability of toxin contamination will be reduced. We follow 4 complementary strategies to reach our goal. We will select microbes that: 1) are specialised in fast decay of the crop debris. Fusarium cannot survive in the soil and uses colonized crop debris as a refugium. 2) show an antagonistic activity against Fusarium, inhibiting growth and sporulation on the crop debris. 3) induce systemic induced resistance: this strategy activates the natural plant defence mechanisms. 4) We will apply Ca2+, Mg2+ and Si3+. These cations enforce plant wall strength and Mg2+ inhibits mycotoxin production. 5) A mixture of microbes acting via mechanism of 1-3 plus 4, resulting in additive effect on Fusarium. To reach our goals we follow an approach of selection of microbes in the lab and greenhouse, in small field plots and in field experiments. The result will be a new product composed of a mixture of several microbes controlling Fusarium via complementary mechanisms. A company will be founded to commercialise the innovative product. The product will reduce the risk for toxin contaminated grains used for food and feed and will in the end contribute to public health.
AQUASAFE: Establishing water safety monitoring for tomorrow – genetic faecal marker diagnostics for detection and tracking of contamination
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-09-01 - 2019-08-31
Molecular faecal pollution diagnostics, based on the detection of genetic faecal microbial source tracking (MST) markers, is about to revolutionise water quality testing. Such applications have been mainly focusing within the fields of recreational water quality monitoring, shellfish production, and maximum daily load monitoring. Scientific knowledge on the application of genetic faecal MST marker diagnostics, to support drinking water supply management and water safety planning, is hardly available yet. The proposed translational research project is going to establish the basic scientific knowledge needed to apply and further develop cutting edge genetic faecal marker diagnostics for quality testing to support water safety plans of drinking water supplies of tomorrow. Genetic faecal MST markers are supposed to extend current monitoring practices based on standard faecal indicator bacteria (SFIB) E. coli and enterococci in order to identify potential contamination sources for elimination or minimisation, and, to bridge the gap between traditional faecal pollution monitoring and microbial risk assessment. However, molecular diagnostics with adequate faecal-source specificity and faecal –source sensitivity is considered a key prerequisite for these applications. A new tiered application strategy for drinking water resources monitoring, based on the combination of bacterial and mitochondrial genetic faecal MST markers, is proposed. The new strategy will systematically be evaluated by means of relevant faecal pollution sources, representative water resources in Lower Austria, and important disinfection processes. To enable comparisons to traditional methods investigations will be complemented by SFIB and total cell count analysis. Chemical markers will be evaluated to support genetic MST diagnostics. The topic “Intelligent Indication Systems and Diagnostics” has been defined as prioritised research area within the recent FTI strategy (Programme for Research, Technology & Innovation for Lower Austria). The submitted research proposal is thus directly contributing to the adopted FTI strategy. The translational research project will stimulate sustainable collaborations between the Karl Landsteiner University, the well-established Center for Analytic Chemistry at IFA Tulln and the Interuniversity Cooperation Centre for Water and Health, a research centre to pioneer cutting edge water quality research. Furthermore, the project will directly collaborate with EVN Wasser GesmbH, the leading Lower Austrian drinking water supplier. The project will thus directly establish links between cutting edge water research and activities of a leading drinking water supplier to support the realization of water safety management of the future. Joint collaboration between these excellent partners in research and management will contribute to a further establishment of Lower Austria as a leading region in the water sector within the Danube and Central European Region.