Three PGEC Graduate Students Awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships

Heidi Wipf: Altered Crosstalk? Characterizing Genome Duplication Effects on the Wheat Microbiome

Plant growth-promoting microbes (PGPM) show great promise for improving crop yields amidst climate change and rising human population growth, but host traits affecting the recruitment of PGPM are not well characterized. Heidi will use transcirptomics, metabolomics and metagenomics to investigate the impact of whole genome duplication events on the wheat microbiome to improve our understandings of plant-microbe signaling and the mechanisms controlling microbial shifts in the rhizosphere, which may reveal candidate PGPM for enhancing drought tolerance and yield.


Alex Styer: Applying Ecological Theory to the Microbiome: A Systems Approach for Disease Control
Cassava is considered one of the world’s five major food crops, vital to the food security of more than half a billion people around the globe. While cassava is resistant to drought and pests, pathogens represent an Achilles Heel for an otherwise hearty crop. Alex will use metagenomics to develop new agronomic methods that can have immediate impact for smallholder farmers by: 1) creating a cassava-specific framework to better anticipate pathogen outbreak in the field; 2) identifying candidate microbial biocontrols of pathogens; and 3) evaluating whether “clean seed” systems currently used by Cassava farmers ultimately help or hurt cassava production.
Michael Busche:  Title and more details will be updated soon. 
Michael will study signaling pathways during stress and development, using maize and Arabidopsis.