My interest in the plant microbiome has shaped the past few years of my life. The captivating questions of how complex communities of microbes come to live in and on plants led me to carry out an MSc project investigating seed microbiomes. From here, wishing to advance my understanding of plant-microbe interactions, I began an interdisciplinary PhD at the James Hutton Institute and Warwick University. Here my focus has shifted from seeds to the dynamic microbiomes of roots. At the heart of my PhD is the collaboration between two world renowned institutes of plant and root research; the University of Warwick and the James Hutton Institute.
The rhizosphere is a region of soil holding incredible biological complexity and diversity. Microbial activity in this region contributes to processes such as plant pathogenesis and nutrient cycling. Previous studies of soil microbial dynamics have viewed the rhizoplane as static, failing to explain large shifts in microbial composition taking place when roots colonise new regions of soil. My PhD project aims to identify, quantify and model factors contributing to early stage root surface colonisation. I use a model system of Lettuce and Pseudomonas fluorescens (Psf), generating data using novel assays supplemented with live imaging in transparent soil. Going forward, the models of colonisation I produce will enable better predictions about root colonisation by beneficial and pathogenic bacteria.
d dot carroll at warwick dot ac dot uk