72: Soil Microbes and Nutrient Availability

Dr. Tarah Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Soil Microbiology at Washington State University. In this interview, Tarah discusses how the plant microbiome mirrors the human gut, the ways in which soil microorganisms can alter the bioavailability of micronutrients and metals for plants, why plants in alkaline soils can be deficient in iron when the soil is not, if cover crops can improve soil microbial communities, and what is next for her research.

Tarah ’s research emphasis is on linking the function and phylogeny of the soil microbiome, specifically with regard to the interactions and impacts on metal bioavailability and soil health. Whether the context is micronutrient availability in the rhizosphere, which confers plant growth promotion and crop enhancement, or in the context of contaminated systems where bioremediation and bioaugmentation are the best options to remediate heavy metals polluted sites, the soil microbiome is key in theses biotransformations. Understanding the consortia of organisms and the mechanisms involved drives the work done in her lab with a wide array of biochemical and molecular techniques.


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