Scott Behie: Root Nodule Community Interactions

Leguminous plants such as soy, peas, clovers, and lentils, form specialized root structures called nodules that house nitrogen-fixing bacteria that facilitate the exchange of nutrients between the symbionts. Historically, it has been thought that root nodules are home to only a few species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, namely the Rhizobia and Bradyrhizobia. However, we now know that root nodules concurrently host multiple microbial species, including actinomycetes that are well known for making specialized metabolites used in medicine and agriculture. Root nodules represent an underexplored source of metabolites, and we believe that there is great potential in root nodule microbial interactions to yield novel metabolites of clinical value. This project bridges metagenomics, analytical chemistry (nanoDESI), and functional ecological studies to unravel the complex community interactions within the root nodule towards secondary metabolite discovery.