The Benitez Ponce laboratory studies plant-associated bacteria, and communities of other
microorganisms, within agricultural systems. Our work has been focused on crop diversification in agronomic crops, leafy green hydroponics, with additional projects on microbial inoculants. Specifically, we work on questions related to
1) agricultural management effects on plant-associated microbial communities and their relationships with plant vigor and plant disease incidence;
2) endophytic microbiome establishment and factors affecting endophyte microbiome composition,
3) how these complex interactions (e.g. management practices and microbial community dynamics) contribute to the success and stability of microbial inoculants.
To this extent, my laboratory applies high throughput molecular techniques and bioinformatic approaches to characterize the diversity and function of microbial communities in plants and the environment in which they grow. We combine this with field and greenhouse experimentation, on-farm surveys, and single isolate characterization; and integrate our results through multivariate data analyses.