Faculty by Research Area

Microbial Ecology

Back to Faculty by Research Area

Photo Dalling,  James

286 Morrill Hall

Professor and Head
Plant Biology, PEEC

My research concerns the population and community ecology of tropical trees, with a particular interest in understanding how soil nutrient availability and soil microbial communities shape the composition and diversity of tree communities. Much of my work is carried out with collaborators at the <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu">Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute</a>, in Panama, either on <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu/english/visit_us/barro_colorado/index.php">Barro Colorado Island</a> or at the <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu/english/research/facilities/terrestrial/fortuna/index.php">Fortuna Forest Reserve</a>, where I maintain a network of forest dynamics plots described <a href="http://www.life.illinois.edu/dalling/publications/105.pdf">here</a>
Kheath Heath,  Katy

249 Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
School of Integrative Biology, Plant Biology, PEEC

My research focuses on the evolution of mutualisms, which are most generally defined as species interactions that increase the fitness of both (or all) partners. Mutualisms are ubiquitous! And they include some of the most important species interactions in nature (for example: mitochondria, mycorrhizae, gut endosymbionts). Though, at first impression, these friendly interactions might appear tightly coevolved, instead they may be characterized by temporal and spatial heterogeneity, cheating, even evolutionary instability. I try to take a multidisciplinary approach and use diverse methods that traditionally are associated with the fields of quantitative genetics (multivariate statistics, greenhouse experiments), population and molecular genetics (genotyping, sequence analysis, expression assays), and ecology (field manipulations, collections) to understand multiple aspects of the evolution of mutualisms. Some questions currently motivating my work include: 1. Under what conditions (including the abiotic and biotic environment) do mutualisms evolve, remain stable, or break down?&nbsp; 2. How phenotypically and genetically variable are mutualistic interactions, and why is such variation maintained, despite selective pressure to cheat or, alternatively, to remain honest? 3. Which genes are variable in nature, and which are, or have been, important players in coevolution? Most generally, I am interested in plants, microbes, and their sundry interactions. Most of my research focuses on the interactions between legumes and their symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, called rhizobia. This includes the <em>Medicago-Sinorhizobium</em> mutualism because it is a great genetic model with an interesting ecology. I also have interests/projects in: the agronomically-important soybean-<em>Bradyrhizobium</em> interaction, invasive/naturalized clover-rhizobium interactions, invasive/naturalized <em>Medicago lupulina</em>-<em>Sinorhizobium </em>interactions, and the native prairie legume <em>Chamaecrista fasciculata</em> and associated rhizobia.
Kent Kent,  Angela

S-510 Turner Hall

Director of PEEC, Professor

Rstumpf Stumpf,  Rebecca

Department of Anthropology


Yannarell Yannarell,  Anthony

S-522 Turner Hall

Associate Professor