Student: Ashley Paulsen, Graduate Student in Interdepartmental Genetics & Genomics, Iowa State University
Faculty Advisor: Ludovico Cademartiri
Cell encapsulation for root-microbe interactions in vivo
Studying plant roots is essential to further efforts for plant breeding and to enable the development of more resilient plants. My lab works on developing tools to study plant roots in vivo and overtime to facilitate these efforts. We have developed a transparent soil system for this purpose and I am now working to incorporate microbes into it. We now know that microbes have an important role in plant health, but these interactions are difficult to study in a controlled environment. I am working to solve this by developing a new technique for cell encapsulation. Using this method, I will encapsulate bacteria with a semi-permeable membrane that will allow them to chemically interact with their environment while being physically constrained. These encapsulated bacteria can then be used with our transparent soil system to study the effects of microbes on plants’ roots and general health. This will allow us to leverage these interactions to help build better crops.