All plants have beneficial bacteria and fungi living on them and in them. Plants have microbiomes. Microbes can increase plant growth and confer resistance to pathogens. Cottonwood (Populus) is a dominant perennial component of temperate forests, has the broadest geographic distribution of any North American tree genus and is a model woody perennial organism being studied by the US Department of Energy.
Carrie will describe a large project that is being carried out by the Department of Energy on Plant-Microbe Interfaces. Its goal is to characterize interactions between Populus and its microbial community with the idea that such information will set the stage to better understand ecosystem responses to climate change, the cycling of carbon on earth and the management of a renewable energy source. This talk will present a broad overview of how we do the research and of major things that we have learned. It will not be a detailed technical talk.
Carrie Harwood is an expert in the care and feeding of bacteria. Especially the kinds of bacteria that like to live near, in and on plants. She states her knowledge of plant biology is weak. She took a botany course in college 45 years ago, but nothing since then. But she notes we are always learning! That’s why she likes this project so much. She has been a Professor in the Department of Microbiology at UW since 2005 and before that spent 15 years as a Professor at the University of Iowa. A large part of her time is devoted to running her research laboratory – which overlooks the Montlake cut. She studies fundamental questions in bacterial physiology including how bacteria sense surfaces, how bacteria survive long-term starvation and biofuel production by bacteria.