How do plant associated microbes interact and how do these interactions scale up to the ecosystem level?

This goal of these projects  are to understand diversity, ubiquity, and molecular mechanisms of bacterial fungal interactions. Some of these bacteria are free living and associated with the exterior of fungal cells. Others are long term, obligate, intracellular endosymbionts that rely on host fungal resources. To answer these questions we generate and analyze whole genome sequences, amplicon barcodes, multiple -omics data sets, and physiological assays.

Mortierella elongata with endosymbionts inside of hyphae (WT) and cleared. Cleared strains grow more rapidly than wild type isolates, indicating a fitness cost to the fungi for supporting endosymbionts.


How are microbial genomes structured after long-term obligate symbiosis?

One way to untangle the evolutionary history of organisms in symbioses is by comparing phylogenomics of each group individually. After full genome sequencing of fungi and bacteria we use phylogentic approaches to understand the ubiquity and functional basis of these symbioses.

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Multi-gene co-phylogeny indicating presence of Glomeribacter gigasporarum and closely related endosymbionts inhabit equally close fungal hosts.


How can we leverage single cell time lapse microscopy to study fungal biology with extreme precision?

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Mortierella elongata growing in a microfluidic chamber


This project includes designing, fabricating, and using microfluidic platforms for imaging microbial interactions and behaviors. By culturing microbes in microscopic chambers appressed to glass slides we are able to dissect microbial behaviors and interactions with great precision.