Dr Davide Bulgarelli

Senior Lecturer/ PI.

Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences

Portrait photo of Davide Bulgarelli
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+44 (0)1382 385405


James Hutton Institute


Plants host remarkable rich and diverse microbial communities in proximity of and within their tissues, designated the plant microbiota. Intriguingly, these associations appear symptomless at first glance, possibly representing a series of mutualistic or symbiotic relationships. Interestingly, experiments performed under laboratory conditions revealed that members of the microbiota provide strategic functions to the plant, such as enhanced mineral acquisition and indirect pathogen protection. However the role and function of the microbiota in a community context is still largely unknown.

My group aims at understanding the structure, function and host control of the microbiota thriving at the root-soil interface. (Figure 1).


We use Barley (Hordeum vulgare, Figure 2 ) as a model to unravel the contribution of the microbiota to plant growth and health. Towards this objective we use state of the art metagenomics,  molecular microbiology and computational biology approaches. By exploiting the experimental and molecular resources available for barley, such as  mutants, accessions, and -"omics" tools, we aim to integrate our findings into a plant genetic framework.

Our ambition is to gain fundamentally novel insights on the molecular interactions existing between an eukaryotic genome and its associated microbiome. In our vision the generated knowledge will be key to exploit plant-microbiota relationships for the sustainability of barley and other crop production.

Figure 1 - The rhizosphere and root microbiota ( modified from Hirsch & Mauchline Nature Biotechnology 30, 961-962 (2012)).

Figure 2 Barley plant                              

Figure 3 Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene revelaled an impact of different barley accessions on the rhizosphere and root microbiota.

View full research profile and publications


I teach molecular plant-soil microbes interactions in the Level 3 course BS32008 ( Plant Sciences) and the Level 4 course BS42005 ( advanced Plant Sciences).


Research interests

Structure, function and host control of the plant microbiota


Award Year
Fellows of Learned Societies and Colleges / RSE Young Academy of Scotland 2016
Personal Fellowships / RSE Personal Fellowship (Marie Curie) 2013