Project Description: 

Sorghum is being explored as a potential crop to enhance carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere and improve carbon storage in soil due to its extensive deep roots. We are exploring how root-associated microorganisms (ie. bacteria and fungi) of sorghum are implicated in biogeochemical cycles using genome-resolved metagenomics. By collecting sorghum rhizosphere samples over the growing season and post-harvest, we are following microbial community changes and functions across time and soil depth. 

Below are a few potential projects for an undergraduate depending on their expertise and interests: 

  • Defining the core microbiome of sorghum by analyzing datasets across various locations and soil types. 

  • Characterizing how viruses change over time and in response to environmental conditions. 

  • Uncoverying the microorganisms and functions of the rhizosphere involved in root decomposition. 

Any project may include the opportunity to perform field work and/or a wet lab component.

The Banfield lab is a diverse group across various departments and fields. We study microbial communities in many environments from agricultural soil to the human gut, so you will gain exposure to a variety of disciplines and research topics. 

Undergraduate's Role: 

Depending on the candidate's interests and the research project, the role will vary. The first project would take the form of a literature review and involve primarly reviewing and analyzing existing sorghum microbiome data (mostly 16S rRNA amplicon data, and a few metagenomic studies). The latter two would focus on analyzing newly collected data, performing genome-resolved metagenomics, and trait analysis of soil microbiomes collected at different depths. Both projects will involve computational analyses and exposure to dealing with large datasets. The candidate will be directly supervised and trained by a postdoctoral researcher. 

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 
  • Basic understanding and interest in microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and molecular biology. 

  • Some familiarity with coding (ie. Python or R) is preferred.

  • Experience in molecular biology lab techniques such as DNA and RNA extraction is beneficial. 

  • Evidence of effective written and oral communication. 

On Campus
To be negotiated
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