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STEM Cafe: What Lurks Beneath: How Soil Microbes Support Plant Health

Start date: 17-09-2020

End date: 17-09-2020

Duration: 6:30 am - 9:30 am CST

Organised by: NIU STEAM

Location: DeKalb, IL, USA


  • Cropping


For decades, companies have developed fungal additives for farmers to increase crop productivity. But little is known about how well those work even in the most common crop plants such as corn and soy. Even less is known about the bacteria that influence plant health and about the impact these microbes have in plant ecosystems other than common crops.

At the next STEM Café, learn about how microbes in soil affect plant health and how plant health, in turn, affects humans and the planet. NIU Biology Associate Professor Wesley Swingley will share insights from a current National Science Foundation-funded study at Morton Arboretum and The Nachusa Grasslands designed to illuminate how bacteria and fungi interact with prairie plant roots.

About the Speaker:

Wesley Swingley, Ph.D., is a biochemist, microbiologist, astrobiologist and conservationist. Swingley began his science career with a heavy interest in astrobiology and the evolutionary adaptations that allow life to inhabit any and all environments on our planet. His work seeks to understand the pivotal role microbes play in shaping ecosystems: from driving planetary-scale biogeochemical cycles to provoking the origin and evolution of functional diversity in higher organisms.

NIU STEAM is made up of programs and people committed to providing activities that spark curiosity, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. 

Focused on exploring science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, NIU STEAM has something for everyone–whether you’re a student, teacher, parent or member of the community!

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