In plants, microorganisms function together with host genetics and the abiotic environment to help regulate processes like plant growth, flowering, stress resistance and the outcomes of disease and herbivory. Therefore, from both a basic research and applied agriculture point of view, it is critical to understand how plant-associated microbial communities form and their implications. Until now, most of our knowledge of plant-microbe interactions comes from molecular and evolutionary studies of binary plant-microbe model systems. At the microscopic level, however, plants are living ecosystems simultaneously colonized by diverse prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Recent research has revealed that besides interacting with the host, plant-associated microbes interact with each other, playing important roles in shaping microbial community structures.
Little is known about what types of microbe-microbe interactions occur in plants and how they affect the structure and functions of plant-associated microbiota. Even less is known about whether these interactions are conserved and have played important roles in the evolution of microorganisms and host plants. This knowledge gap severely limits our understanding of host-associated microbiota in the wild and in agricultural systems. The research group “Plant Microbiosis” studies microbe-microbe interactions to help answer these questions and to bridge the gap between ecological (microbiome diversity) and evolutionary (plant-microbe interactions) understandings of plant-associated microbiota.
|2017||Group Leader Junior Research Group, Plant Microbiosis, Institute of Microbiology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena|
|2017||Faculty member, Jena School for Microbial Communication|
|2017||Faculty member, International Leibniz Research School|
|2012 – 2017||Posdoctoral Researcher, MPI for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany|
|2012||PhD, Cornell University|
|2006||BS, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign|