Research projects

Selection of rhizosphere microbiomes that modulate plant traits

Our goal is to understand the functional role of root-associated microbial communities in modulating plant traits. We are assembling microbial communities that modulate plant traits across generations of selective pressure. We are specifically examining shifts in microbial community composition across the different plant phenotypes, in relation to soil and plant functional variables, in hopes of developing cropping systems that interact with their microbiomes to enhance desirable plant traits.

Identifying novel biosynthetic metabolites from rhizosphere microorganisms contributing to plant growth or inhibition

The rhizosphere harbors many soil microorganisms that directly enhance or inhibit plant growth. We are using a combination of cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent molecular methods to isolate and assess secondary metabolites produced by rhizosphere microorganisms. We plan to isolate compounds produced from rhizosphere microorganisms that can impact the management of weed populations.

Assembly of plant-microbial communities that enhance ecosystem services

Diverse plant communities can enhance ecosystem services by minimizing nutrient exports, minimizing weed invasion in dense vegetated canopies, and stimulating microbial growth and activity. We are studying how the composition of plant communities enhances nitrogen retention and plant community productivity.