Using plants and microbes to address fundamental biological questions

Faculty and students in the Plant and Microbial Biosciences (PMB) Program use a variety of experimental organisms to address fundamental and applied biological problems.  Research on plant and microbial systems contributes to our understanding of the natural world and drives innovation in biomedicine, agriculture, and energy production.

The PMB Program trains world-class biologists who employ plants and microbes as their model systems and use state-of-the-art techniques and approaches across disciplines.  The success of PMB graduates in obtaining postdoctoral fellowships, professorships at leading academic institutions, and leadership positions in the private sector attests to the inherent strengths of this philosophy.

PMB is fully integrated with other graduate programs in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS).  PMB faculty maintain close ties with the Molecular Microbiology and Pathogenesis, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, Biochemistry, Biophysics, & Structural Biology, and Molecular Cell Biology programs.  Students in PMB receive training not only in plant and microbial systems, but also in imaging, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, systems biology, geochemistry, molecular evolution, and ecology, from leaders in the field.

Research in PMB covers a diverse array of topics including:

  • Interactions between plants, microbes, and their environment
  • Assembly and regulation of membrane-associated complexes
  • Cytoskeletal organization and regulation
  • Cell morphology and cell division
  • Structural biology and biochemistry
  • Cell and organelle size
  • Metabolic engineering of natural products, biomaterials, and biofuels
  • Microbial ecology and evolution
  • Biogeochemical cycles and earth history
  • Mechanobiology
  • Abiotic and biotic stress signaling