The productivity and fitness of plants often depends on their associations with fungal symbionts and surrounding saprotrophic microorganisms. Yet, we know little about what drives the distributions or local adaptation of these microbes. My research utilizes natural climatic gradients and global surveys to determine the relative influence of abiotic and biotic factors on plant-fungal symbioses and soil fungal and bacterial communities across scales. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop predictive frameworks to describe how climate change may affect these microorganisms and their consequences on plant hosts and surrounding ecosystems.
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in Jenn Rudgers’ lab at the University of New Mexico where we are currently addressing how symbiotic fungal communities can affect the distribution and fitness of their associated plant hosts along elevational gradients in Colorado.
I am also collaborating with Christine Hawkes to investigate the influence of plant identity and climate on soil microbial communities and biogeochemical processes in Costa Rica.
Finally, I have recently started a collaboration with Bob Muscarella, Kathleen Treseder, and Christine Hawkes to create predictive ecological niche models of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi at the global scale.
03.08.2017 I have accepted a position in the EEB department at UT-Knoxville! Can’t wait to arrive in January 2018!
03.07.2017 Manuscript with Lukas Bell-Dereske et al. accepted in FEMS Microbiology Ecology. Congrats Luke (who is also starting a post-doc with Sarah Evans soon)!