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Lori A Hoagland

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture 

  • Professor of Soil Microbial Ecology
Horticulture Room 309

 General Information

Area of Expertise: Agroecology, soil health, organic nutrient management, biological control of pathogens, metals contamination


  • PhD, Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry, Washington State University
  • MS, Agroecology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • BS, Environmental Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Currently teaching:
  • Introduction to Urban Agriculture (SFS31200; taught every fall)
  • The Plant Microbiome (HORT52500; taught in fall, even years)
  • Tropical Ecosystems and Sustainable Crop Production in Colombia (Study abroad Maymester course coming soon)

Research program: 

The primary goal of my research program is to support the continued growth and long-term sustainability of local food production systems in both rural and urban environments. To accomplish this goal, my lab studies soil microbial ecology. Soil microbes regulate many key agroecosystem services such as making essential nutrients like nitrogen available for plant uptake, and reducing the bioavailability of toxic heavy metals like cadmium. Some soil microbes can also interact closely with plants to help them acquire critical resources like nutrients and water, and withstand assault by pathogens that cause diseases in crops and humans. Consequently, by learning more about how the composition and functional capacity of soil and plant microbiomes evolve and proliferate in crop production systems, it will be possible to leverage beneficial plant-soil-microbial relationships to promote the productivity, quality and safety of crops. At the same time, leveraging these relationships will reduce reliance on agrochemical inputs, thereby increasing farm profitability and protecting environmental health. 

My research team works with farmers to identify their greatest production constraints and many of our projects are conducted on-farm using a participatory research approach. This allows us to leverage the unique knowledge and experience of farmers to help develop practical solutions to these production challenges. It also helps us determine how management practices and local soil conditions interact to influence microbial processes and beneficial plant-soil-microbial relationships. We use a combination of traditional and new molecular tools in the lab to quantify changes in the composition and functional capabilities of soil and plant microbiomes and their associated impacts on plant biotic and abiotic stress responses. We also work with engineers to develop new, more efficient approaches to study microbial communities and their influence on critical soil and plant processes. Finally, we are engaged in several long-term collaborative research projects with plant breeders to identify genetic mechanisms mediating beneficial plant-soil-microbial relationships with the long-term goal of integrating selection for these relationships into crop improvement programs.

While my lab continues to be involved in a wide variety of projects here in Indiana and across the U.S., over the past few years I have also become engaged in several sustainable agricultural development initiatives in South America. In 2019, I obtained a Fulbright award, which allowed me to live in Bogota, Colombia and serve as a visiting professor in the Department of Biology at the National University of Colombia. During this time, I had the opportunity to interact with researchers and farmers across this vibrant and beautiful country, and develop many collaborative research projects. I have also been actively engaged in a variety of projects in southern Peru and in August 2021 I took over as Co-Director of the Arequipa NEXUS Institute. The goal of the NEXUS institute is to collaboratively address environmental, agroeconomic, and social challenges limiting the development of adaptive, profitable, and sustainable food-energy-water systems in the Arequipa Region of Peru. Additional information about the Arequipa NEXUS institute can be found at the following website: https://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/arequipa-nexus/en/index.php

Specific objectives of on-going research projects in my lab include:

  • Identify factors influencing the development of disease suppressive soils to reduce crop losses to plant pathogens and prevent the proliferation of food-borne pathogens that can make people sick
  • Improve nutrient-use efficiency in systems that rely on organic fertility sources to enhance crop health and productivity, and reduce nutrient loss to protect the environment
  • Prevent the uptake and translocation of cadmium, lead and arsenic into edible plant tissues to improve crop performance and protect human health
  • Investigate relationships between soils, microbes and the nutritional quality of produce, with the long term goal of identifying new approaches to leverage these relationships to promote human health
  • Develop new, improved tomato and carrot varieties that are more efficient at supporting beneficial microbial communities that enhance crop, human and environmental health

Additional insights about my research, teaching and engagement activities, as well as information about all the talented students, post-docs and visiting scholars that contribute to these efforts can be found on the Hoagland Lab Website: www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/hoaglandlab.

    Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010 USA, (765) 494-1300

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