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Phragmites australis (Common Reed)

As one of the most recognizable wetland and upland ecosystem grasses P. australis has been native to numerous regions including the United States for thousands of years. However, an invasive genotype from Europe has largely displaced our native genotype. The invasive P. australis aggressively out competes other plants with its aggressive root and rhizome system, and a tall, dense canopy that shades out almost all other plants growing around it.

We have investigating the competitive advantage due endophytic bacteria that associate with the invasive P. australis seeds. Our previous research with these microbes has shown growth plants benefits, protection from soil pathogens, and eliminates some weedy competitors.

Currently we are working on using an organic, non-toxic method to interrupt this symbiosis to reduce the invasive behavior of P. australis.

Humulus lupulus (Hops)

Investigating how beneficial microbes influence economically important attributes of secondary metabolite production in hops. Such as alpha and beta acids important in the brewing process of beer. It is clear that different varieties of hops produce unique ratios of these important metabolites. Investigating which microbes associate with the different plant varieties will help her understanding in how microbes may be stimulating the various molecular pathways responsible for aroma and flavor profiles.

In her research April also hopes to discover how these same bacteria may influence the development of the glandular trichrome, in particular if size and density, and disease prevention.

Agave sp. (Agave)

Agave is a common plant found in the deserts of the American Southwest and Mexico. Like most desert plants, agaves must deal with low nutrient levels, infrequent access to water, and excessive heat, salt, and UV exposure. One way that they may be gaining resistance to such stressors is via their microbes, which may be involved in processes at the root and shoot that can improve nutrient acquisition and activate stress-relieving pathways.

As a result of climate change, extreme weather events, particularly droughts, are hitting farmlands with increasing frequency. By investigating the role that microbes of agave and other drought-tolerant plants play in the survival of their hosts, we hope to create new microbe-based solutions to the problems that farmers are facing, and will continue to face, in the coming decades.

Triticum aestivum (Winter Wheat)

Commonly used as a cover crop, T. aestivum  is a versatile and hardy cultivar of wheat. Commonly used to make flour for bread or blended into all purpose flower, it can also be used as a cover crop and or grazing. It is less likely to become weed like when used in rotation for farmers that prefer no-till or reduced-tilling methods. We are interested in discovering how the associated microbiome may help T. aestivum and other crop plants grow in colder and dryer environments.

Cynodon dactylon (Bermudagrass)

Considered by some to be an invasive grass C. dactylon  is a warm season grass of Asian origin. It was imported to the United States in 1807. It has developed some cold tolerant strains and can be tolerant of many harsh conditions. These adaptive qualities caused interest in our research group to explore and understand the endophytes that associate with C. dactylon.

Poa annua (Annual Bluegrass)

Survey of endophytic bacteria that associates with P. annua from three different regions. We hope to discover which isolates are constant companions to P. annua and which may help it adapt to a newer environment.

Origanum (Oregano)

This project is just being started. We are isolating microbes from Common Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare subp. hirtum), and Marjoram (Origanum majorana). Once purified these isolates will be tested to see if they are beneficial endophytes that can also enhance the medicinal quality of oregano and other herbs.