Faculty Seed Grant Projects

Global change and host-microbiome interactions


Plants are impacted by many global environmental changes, including pollinator declines, which has dramatic fitness consequences, the introduction of non-native species, which can alter community-level dynamics in native communities, and land use changes. Yet, to date little attention has been paid to potential impacts of these changes on host-associated microbial symbionts.

Microbial symbionts in plants can play important roles in plant nutrition, stress tolerance, and host defense against pathogens, and therefore changes in these communities can have important consequences for plant health and survival. The work proposed herein will lay a foundation for advancing mechanistic understanding of how important global change factors impact host-microbiome associations.

Research objective 1: Understand the consequences of pollinator loss on the floral microbiome of native, Solanum carolinense, and introduced, Solanum dulcamara, plant hosts.

Research objective 2: Evaluate the impact of land use changes on the floral microbiome across a natural transect where Solanum carolinense and Solanum dulcamara co-occur.

Importantly, this will work will provide preliminary data for a planned National Science Foundation submission in 2020.