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!
MMPRNTers were all ready for the annual Fall All Hands meeting at KBS when mother nature hit Sunday night with a huge mid-November snow storm. Treacherous roads caused us to postpone the lightning poster session and prevented our guests from Angela Kent and Wendy Yang’s labs (University of Illinois) from driving up. However, MMPRNT persevered and we were able to continue our schedule as planned on day two. While not able to meet in person, Angela and Wendy each joined virtually to presented their work looking at crop genome influences on microbial community structure and the possible importance of nitrogen mineralization in the N budget of Miscanthus. They were also able to listened in to great talks from MMPRNTers Tayler Ulbrich, Darian Smercina, Lukas Bell-Dereske and Rick White III. Even with the rough start, the meeting was a success and everyone is excited about collaboration opportunities with the Kent and Yang labs. Thanks to everyone who participated!