The underground world is a lively place, with plant roots, soil microbes, and other underground organisms waging a continual battle for resources. Plant roots take an active role in this conflict through the exudation of various chemicals, yet key areas of this process remain mysterious: what genes and gene networks control exudation? How do plant root exudates influence the microbial community of the soil, and how far does this influence extend from the plant root? Finally, if plant roots do play a large role in soil microbial composition, what roles do agricultural management practices have on soil microbial biodiversity?
Our laboratory studies these topics.
We are firm believers that by bringing together a combined understanding of root-microbiome interactions we are likely to redefine the goals and practices of agricultural management and sustainability.