Student Research Peeks Into the Unseen World in the Trees
Junior Aubrey Habron, sophomore Olivia Rode, sophomore Mary Strecker and Chad Scholes, Ph.D., professor of biology, work on a project to identify different types of bacteria in the local phyllosphere.
here might be more to the trees around us than meets the eye — a lot more.
Just like the human body is home to an ecosystem of microorganisms unique as a fingerprint called the microbiome, an unseen world exists among plants, too — it’s known as the phyllosphere. Recently, a group of Rockhurst University students have been trying to paint a picture of the local phyllosphere. With faculty adviser Chad Scholes, Ph.D., professor of biology, the team scoured campus and Kansas City’s Swope Park for leaf samples, from which they grew cultures to send off for DNA sequencing and later cataloguing. Junior biology major Audrey Habron said she appreciated the opportunity to be part of a project in an emerging field of science. “I’m interested in this as a career path — I love plants,” she said. “As soon as I heard about this, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
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