Empirically modeling plant microbiome assembly and dynamics
A basic ecological question that we will address is how is diversity maintained within the microbiome? Why doesn’t a single symbiont outcompete the other 1000s of constituents? Ecological theory suggests that the answer to this question can be explained by a combination of niche partitioning, neutral processes and trophic interactions. The combination of plant microcosms and syntheric microbial communities allow us to empirically and precisely measure these processes in real-time and assess their contribution towards maintaining diversity.
By manipulating the biotic and abiotic components of this microcosm, causal plant-microbe, microbe-microbe, plant-environment and microbe-environment interactions can be disentangled to provide a comprehensive model of plant microbiome assembly and dynamics.