As the MMPRNT team continues to work from home, we did get to see each other again in our second virtual All Hands this October. We met new postdocs and technicians in the Friesen and Tiemann labs, shared our research interests and directions, and brainstormed collaboration opportunities. Maren even led breaktime yoga!
MMPRNT was very proud this week as one of our graduate students, Darian Smercina, defended her PhD on April 1st! Presenting her seminar titled Environmental and Biological Controls on Free-living Nitrogen Fixation Darian shared her last 5 years of work exploring free living nitrogen fixers in marginal land soils. If you missed the talk, her most recent paper-Switchgrass Rhizosphere Metabolite Chemistry Driven by Nitrogen Availability –is available for early view from Phytobiomes. This summer Darian will begin her postdoc at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where she has earned the prestigious Linus Pauling Fellowship. Congrats Darian! Thanks for all your hard work on MMPRNT!
MMPRNT also held its semi annual All Hands meeting on March 31st. Last meeting was held virtually due to a snowstorm and this year safety precautions around covid-19 send us to a digital platform again. We vow to meet in person eventually! Distance aside, we had a great time sharing project updates and plans for the future. Angela Kent and Wendy Yang’s lab groups, both from the University of Illinois and members of CABBI (Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation), also joined us and we brainstormed avenues for future collaboration between CABBI and MMPRNT.
Various MMPRNTers attended the DOE Genomic Science Program’s Annual PI Meeting in DC on February 23-26. Lukas, Tayler, and Darian presented posters (on aerial colonization of switchgrass leaf microbiome, affects of microbes on seed germination during drought, and free living nitrogen fixation in the switchgrass rhizosphere, respectively). Lisa presented results connecting nitrogen transformations mediated by rhizosphere microbiome to marginal land cropping system productivity in the Plant Research for Bioenergy: From Lab to Field Breakout Session. Heather also presented her work showing that relic DNA dynamics can mask shifts the resilience of switchgrass microbiomes during drying-rewetting. Great work everyone!