Environmental Microbiomes

Environmental Microbiomes hero

Researchers across three different Penn State Colleges are exploring microbiomes in soils, biocrusts, coral reefs, and geological settings, in both natural and man-made environments. Our research also asks questions about how environmental microbiomes respond to changes in climate or ecology, and how these changes may be leveraged to improve key problems today in climate change, deforestation, and fire.  

Check out the Phytobiomes Initiative at Penn State to learn more about our research focused on examining the diverse microbial systems of plants. 

Faculty Working in Environmental Microbiomes

Corien Bakermans

Professor of Microbiology (Altoona)

Iliana Baums

Professor of Biology

Molecular ecology and evolution of reef invertebrates.

Mary Ann Bruns

Professor of Soil Microbiology and Biogeochemistry

Compositions and functions of microbiomes in agriculture, ecological restoration, and engineered systems for ecosystem service provision and climate change adaptation

Carolee Bull

Director of the Microbiome Center; Professor of Plant Pathology; Bacterial Systematics Head, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Bacterial systematics, epidemiology, and population biology of bacterial plant pathogens and biological control agents to develop alternatives to synthetic chemicals for plant disease management

Liana Burghardt

Huck Early Career Chair of Root Biology and Rhizosphere Interactions; Assistant Professor of Plant Science
Plant-microbe-climate interactions; the evolution and ecology of legumes and nitrogen-fixing rhizobia; the genomic basis and environment dependence of root, nodule, and mutualism traits; GWAS/transcriptomics/evolve & resequence…

Estelle Couradeau

Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Science & Management

Sharifa Crandall

Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Soilborne disease dynamics and management in managed and natural systems; microbial community ecology with a focus on fungi and oomycetes; the influence of plant stress on microbiomes; improving plant and soil health

María del Mar Jiménez Gasco

Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Mictobiology

Joshua Kellogg

Emphasis Area Representative, Molecular Toxicology; Assistant Professor of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Development of new metabolomics tools for chemical and biological characterization of complex systems. Discovery of new natural products from plants and microorganisms with novel bioactivity against pathogenic fungi and neglected tropical diseases.…

Jennifer Macalady

Director of the Ecology Institute; Professor of Geosciences
Microbial interactions with earth materials: soils, sediments, solutes, atmospheric gases, minerals, and rocks. Early evolution of Earth’s biosphere, including photosynthesis and sulfur cycling. Microbial ecology, environmental omics, microbial…

Tim Miyashiro

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

How bacteria adapt to a host environment. The mutualistic symbiosis established between the Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) and a bioluminescent bacterium (Vibrio fischeri).

John Regan

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Biological treatment processes, molecular microbial ecology, bioenergy production.