The project, "Exploring the role of drought-induced plant-associated microbes in promoting plant fitness in Sorghum bicolor and Oryza sativa”, includes co-principal Investigators Matt Traxler and John Taylor of UC-Berkeley, as well as Venkatesan Sundaresan of UC-Davis
They will investigate the role of root-associated Actinobacteria in promoting host fitness under drought stress in two plants important to the DOE mission of sustainable biofuels. Actinobacteria are known to survive in extreme environments, produce many bioactive secondary metabolites, and preliminary data from their labs suggest that Actinobacteria are reproducibly more abundant in the roots of drought-treated sorghum and rice than in those of well-watered controls. DOE will fund ~1.2 terabases of Isolate sequencing, RNA-Seq, and 16S amplicon sequencing, as well as 480 metabolomics samples.
In association with this project, Devin was also recently awarded a USDA/ARS Headquarter's-funded postdoctoral position. The selected postdoc will identify the genetic and functional potential of endophytic Actinobacteria isolated from drought-stressed sorghum and will assess any associated transcriptional changes in the host.