Microbiome hero image

Microbiome Center

Supporting research into the understanding of systems at all levels of the microbiome

The Penn State Microbiome Center is one of the largest and most active microbiome research and education centers in the U.S. The center was established in 2017 to foster transformative, cross-college interdisciplinary research and to provide infrastructure and resources needed for increasing diversity and breadth of interdisciplinary microbiome research at Penn State. The center is part of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, which exists to strengthen interdisciplinary life science research and graduate education campus wide. Faculty, students, and staff associated with the Penn State Microbiome Center come from 9 colleges, 16 campuses, and 3 institutes. We are seeking a new Penn State Microbiome Center Director to lead the center through its next phase of growth and development and to fulfill its vision of becoming an international leader in microbiome research and education.

Interested applicants can read more about the position and apply here.

A microbiome is the structure and function of the complete microbial community and its environment. Studying microbiomes provides an understanding of relationships and functions and their impacts on larger systems. Microbes make up over 60% of the life on our planet, and we are just now beginning to describe how these diverse communities impact our lives.  

The goal of the Penn State Microbiome Center is to support transformative, interdisciplinary research in microbiomes. We foster long-term working relationships, while simultaneously providing infrastructure and resources needed for increasing the diversity and breadth of interdisciplinary microbiome research at Penn State. This support includes structured and tacit educational opportunities for students and researchers that are unique to Penn State.


Long-distance relationships for endangered corals

Flash-frozen sperm collected from corals in Florida and Puerto Rico was used to fertilize coral eggs from hundreds of miles away in Curaçao. The technique could be used as a conservation tool by introducing genetic variation into endangered corals and potentially accelerating their adaptation to climate change.

Penn State biologist and colleagues receive $4M to identify heat-tolerant corals

An international team that includes Penn State biologist Iliana Baums has been awarded a $4 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to identify corals that are naturally resilient to climate change. This is one of four newly funded projects supported by the foundation that are focused on the conservation and restoration of coral reefs in the context of the climate crisis.

Reef-building corals and microscopic algae within their cells evolve together

The microscopic algae that live inside and provide nutrients to their reef-building coral hosts may be evolving in tandem with the corals they inhabit, so each partner is fine-tuned to meet one another’s needs. A new study by Penn State biologists reveals that genetic differences within a species of these microalgal symbionts correspond to the coral species they inhabit, a discovery that could have implications for the conservation of these endangered corals.

Data 4 Action enriches student experience while documenting pandemic

​The Data 4 Action (D4A) project is comprised of dozens of Penn State researchers who are documenting the impacts of COVID-19 in Centre County. While the goal of the project is to assess the biological, psychological and social functioning of Penn State students and community members, the project is also providing new and impactful opportunities for a growing group of students working as research assistants.