The cutting-edge of agricultural and biological research lies in understanding the complex interweb of thousands of microbiomes. Our project is at the forefront of this research, focusing on harnessing microbiome interactions for the sustainable management of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and soil health.
Our project is led by three esteemed early career scientists who bring their expertise and passion to the forefront of our research. Dr. Barney Geddes from North Dakota State University (NDSU) with his extensive knowledge in microbiology, Dr. Briana Whitaker from the USDA-ARS in Peoria, who brings her expertise in the field of microbial ecology, and Dr. Thomas Baldwin from NDSU's Plant Pathology department, who contributes his insights in plant pathology and disease management.
Graduate students, Ms. Brooke Benz and Ms. Joan Acaso, play integral roles and contribute intellectually on our project, conducts the experiments, analyzing data, and presents at many conferences, including IS-MPMI, USWBSI, and Fungal Genetics. Ms. Brooke Benz, a Ph.D. graduate student specializing in Plant Pathology at North Dakota State University (NDSU) since summer of 2021. Her meticulous approach and passion for understanding the intricacies of microbiome interactions make her a valuable asset to our research. Additionally, Ms. Joan Acaso, is contributing to significantly to this project and several follow up projects on the microbiome. She started in the Barney Geddes lab in summer of 2023 and is a Ph.D. graduate student in Microbiology at NDSU. her expansive knowledge of sequencing, plant genetics, and microbiology are an asset to the project.
Key- Project Objectives:
Validate microbiome markers for FHB resistance: Utilize previous data to develop qPCR markers targeting microbes responsive to FHB and mycotoxin accumulation. These markers will be employed to test barley-microbe interactions and aid breeders in selecting FHB-resistant barley varieties.
Establish a core barley spike microbiome culture collection: Isolate and characterize diverse culturable microbes from barley samples collected across different locations. The collection will be housed in NDSU's crop microbiome culture collection, fostering collaborations and providing a resource for future research.
Evaluate microbial antagonism against FHB and mycotoxin accumulation: Assess the antagonistic effects of isolated microbes on FHB and mycotoxin accumulation using greenhouse and detached palea assays. These experiments will enhance our understanding of how microbial communities fostered by barley genetics can resist FHB and reduce mycotoxin contamination.
Expected Outcomes and Impact:
Our project outputs will provide valuable resources and insights for researchers, extension educators, and stakeholders involved in barley FHB management. Validated microbiome markers will aid breeders in developing FHB-resistant barley varieties. The core barley spike microbiome culture collection will serve as a resource for studying microbial communities and developing biological management strategies. Evaluating microbial antagonism against FHB and mycotoxin accumulation will contribute to the development of effective biological control methods, reducing yield losses and mycotoxin contamination in barley production.