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Trevor Melusen

Trevor Melusen
Project Title: 
Soil Microbial Community Evolution
Program Year: 
Environmental Science and Plant & Soil Science
Kristen DeAngelis

This summer I worked in Kristen DeAngelis’ lab setting up and beginning a year-long experiment. My research centers around soil bacterial communities, specifically those that associate with plants. For the course of my experiment, genetically identical Brachypodium distachyon will be grown for 21 day periods in an artificial, model soil along with a bacterial inoculant in a fabricated ecosystem (EcoFAB). After 21 days, bacteria from the largest plants from the selection line, and random plants from the control line, will be extracted and used to inoculate the next generation. It is hypothesized that as each generation is completed, the average size of the plants will increase due to more beneficial relationships with the soil bacteria being formed. If this is the case, the bacterial communities from both the selection and control lines will be analyzed using metagenomics to determine the functional gene composition of the communities. This should give insight into the ways in which certain genes promote growth of the Brachypodium. Additionally, the use and proof-of-concept of using model soil and EcoFABs in this experiment will allow for greater experimental control in similar experiments in the future.