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K-State Today

November 3, 2022

Sarah Lebeis to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Sarah Lebeis, assistant professor in the department of microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University, will present "Unraveling Plant and Bacterial Metabolite Exchange During Microbiome Assembly" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, in 221 Ackert Hall.

Plant rhizospheres enrich for a complex, and often consistent, subset of the bulk soil microbial reservoir. In addition to host control through root exudates and immune responses, microbial interspecies interactions also influence the structure and function of the root-associated microbiome. Mechanistic understanding of how these interactions combine to dictate microbiome establishment remains largely enigmatic. We aim to identify specific plant and microbial factors mediating plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions at the root interface. We use a range of experimental biotic complexities  — single strain to synthetic community — and host genetic mutants to gain a mechanistic and holistic understanding of how individual localization phenotypes scale-up to higher-order community dynamics. We first utilize computational methods to identify key host and microbial genetic factors potentially influencing microbiome dynamics. We then define the fundamental niche of individual bacterial strains in the context of the root by investigating colonization phenotypes in wild-type and mutant host lines. Finally, we combine bacterial strains into synthetic communities and assess the impact of different microbial and host factors on microbiome establishment and maintenance. We find that individual bacterial strains have distinct phenotypes in the context of plant roots and these behaviors can be explained by genetic factors. Additionally, microbial communities with variable metabolic overlap and antagonism, as well as hosts with altered genetic potential, result in varying microbiome functioning and biodiversity.

If you would like to visit with Lebeis, please contact Anna Kazarina at akazarina@k-state.edu