October 31 2012

12:00 LSB 2320

Ann Hirsch
Dept of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, UCLA

Digging in the ‘Dirt’—Plant-Microbe Interactions as the Climate Changes


The effects of climate change on aboveground animals and plants are well documented partly because they are easier to monitor, measure, and model. However, belowground organisms, especially microbes, significantly impact aboveground flora and fauna. For plants, the microbes are mainly associated with the root system, specifically the interface between the soil and the root surface, i.e. the rhizosphere, where the plant’s microbiome resides. The composition of this microbiome is likely to change significantly as the climate changes. We have been analyzing soil microbes from various areas (arid lands in Western Australia, deserts in Israel, the fynbos in South Africa) that are vulnerable to climate change not only to obtain a deeper knowledge of the current state-of-the-microflora in these regions, but also to find bacteria that will promote plant growth under climate change conditions. At the same time, we have used a variety of methods to show that these microbes, such as recently discovered Burkholderia species from South Africa, Mexico, and Brazil, which fix atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, thus promoting plant growth in nutrient-poor soils, are unlikely to be pathogenic on plants and animals as are the species B. mallei and B. pseudomallei.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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