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Systems biology of sorghum-AMF interactions

12 big sorghum plots in a green field

Sorghum is an important biofuel species, with high potential in more drought-prone and low fertility marginal lands. It has been long recognized to form beneficial relationships with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, but the degree of beneficial outcomes varies greatly among sorghum genotypes. In this project, we seek to understand the genetic underpinnings of productive sorghum-AMF associations using a systems biology lens. In particular, we are interested in the genetic-environment-microbiome interactions that together determine sorghum trait expression and beneficial symbiotic relationships with AMF. This is a major collaborative project funded by the DOE, led by Dr. Jeff Bennetzen, with Dr. Katrien Devos, Dr. Jonathan Arnold, Dr. Nancy Johnson, and Dr. Anny Chung as co-PIs. In the Chung lab, we will focus on greenhouse and field experiments that investigate the relationships between sorghum genotypes, beneficial AMF, fertilization, and the consequences for root and soil microbiome assembly.

Currently, PhD student Xiomy is contributing to this project as a part of her dissertation, and further exploring the effects of drought on sorghum microbiomes and root exudates. Several REEU students have also contributed to this project.