Esther Singer


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Microbial ecology, bioinformatics, computational modeling

Project Description

Plant microbiomes are essential for plant health. Because of the heterogeneity and diversity of soils, bacteria and fungi interact with each other and their host plant in a multitude of mechanisms that are not easily distinguishable. In order to sustainably improve soil management strategies for plants we require mechanistic knowledge of plant associated bacteria under relevant conditions. For this project, we use two model grasses, Panicum hallii and Brachypodium distachyon, and inoculate them with engineered as well as natural bacterial and fungal strains. We will systematically study impacts of bacterial and fungal presence on plant health under various stress conditions in order to link plant functions and microbial functions necessary for plant health and symbiosis. The main research question is: What are the molecular mechanisms that facilitate colonization and growth promotion of synthetic communities on Panicum and Brachypodium under various environmental conditions?


Background in computational biology (e.g. working with R/python, statistics, DNA sequence analysis), molecular methods (DNA extraction, PCR, pipetting) and/or soil chemistry, microscopy (confocal and electron)

Expected time commitment

3-5 full days per week

Preferred start time:

June 1, 2020