Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, a dark-haired person wearing a white jacket, poses for a headshot in the lab.

Soil-plant-microbe interactions

Microbiomes or microbial communities



Artistic rendering of the exterior of the BioEPIC facility after construction. Scientist and two students in a bioscience lab with glass bioreactors. Scientist holding a glass square container with a plant sample. A color sculpture of helix DNA in front of a dusk-bathed building. Four people gathered around a computer desk smiling Green field in front of blue, cloud-filled sky. Field at sunset. Scientist makes adjustments on the SmartSoils testbed. Scientist works in an orange lit laboratory. Two scientists looking at computer models. Gloved hands collect sample from soil. Birdseye view of green algal bloom. Scientist holding a petri dish. Person with medium-length black hair wearing glasses and a black cardigan over a blue top, photographed against a dark gray background.

Romy Chakraborty is head of the Ecology Department in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area. Chakraborty has pioneered discovery of unique microbes catalyzing key biogeochemical processes in diverse ecosystems to enable translational solutions for improving environmental health and sustainable agriculture.

Person with short dark brown hair wearing a black blazer over a black shirt, photographed outdoors.

Jean-Marie Volland is a scientist with dual appointments at the Joint Genome Institute and Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems. He uses classic and cutting-edge imaging approaches in conjunction with sequencing technologies to investigate gigantism and symbiotic interactions in uncultivated bacteria and small eukaryotes.

Person with short brown hair wearing a navy collared shirt, photographed against a gray background.

Nick Bouskill is an environmental microbiologist and biogeochemist broadly interested in the interaction between microbial communities and biogeochemical cycling. His two major interests are how ecosystems respond to drought, and how nitrogen and water cycles interact under a drier and warmer climate.

A vial containing brightly colored shapes representing molecules sits on a beige surface next to empty blue vials Michelle O'Malley, a person with medium-length brown hair wearing a black sweater, with rows of books in the background.

One of the most abundant terrestrial polymers (large molecules made of repeating subunits called monomers) on Earth, lignin surrounds valuable plant fibers and other molecules that could be converted into biofuels and other commodity chemicals – if we could only get past that rigid plant cell wall.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, researchers prove that a group of anaerobic fungi – Neocallimastigomycetes – are up to the task.

Project Scientist Lauren Lui is using the latest bioinformatics technology to study the genes of these immensely bountiful and diverse microbes so we can learn how they shape the environment — and how we could harness them for agriculture, medicine, and more.

A computer screen floating in front of a supercomputing facility with a virus and bacteria coming out of the top. A large root system connects the computer with dirt floor full of soil organisms. Microscope illustration shining a light on proteins. Construction on the BioEPIC building. Charlie Koven conducting fieldwork outdoors. Closeup shot of sorghum with a bee nearby. View of Earth from space.