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
- 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
The primary goal of my research program is to support the continued growth and long-term sustainability of local food production systems. 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.
Many of my projects are conducted on-farm using a participatory research approach. This allows me to leverage the unique knowledge and experience of farmers to help develop practical solutions to real-world problems, and determine how management practices and local soil conditions interact to influence microbial processes. My lab uses a combination of traditional microbiology and new molecular tools to quantify changes in the composition and functional capabilities of soil and plant microbiomes. I am also working with engineers to develop new, more efficient approaches to study microbial communities and their associated influence on soil and plant processes. Finally, I am engaged in 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 I continue 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.