Microbial Community Assembly Rules

A major challenge in creating synthetic bacterial communities is transitioning from sterile plants into a defined community. Recent efforts by other labs used solid substrates to start plants under sterile conditions and then added a large number of pure bacterial cultures to recreate a plant microbiome that resembles a natural microbiome (without fungi). Our aim is to develop a more tractable system that will allow us to build a microbiome stepwise beginning with the addition of beneficial microbes (bacteria and/or fungi). We have had limited success using sterile plants grown in agar, but we think hydroponics may provide a better study system starting with more robust plants.