Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas


Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 

The current Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 project titled Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant and Soil Systems (MAPS) across Kansas utilizes fundamental research to determine how microbiomes can enhance productivity, mitigate environmental problems in agricultural-dominated landscapes, and conserve native grasslands and their ecosystem functions. In addition, the MAPS project will investigate the integrated connectivity among microbiomes found in plants, aquatic and soil systems making this project unique and potentially transformative.

The MAPS’ vision is a world in which microbiomes and their interactions with the environment are used to manage ecosystem processes and mitigate environmental degradation in agricultural and native landscapes.

The MAPS’ mission is to elucidate how microbiomes interact within native and agriculturally dominated aquatic, plant, and soil habitats, leveraging the steep precipitation gradient across Kansas as a means of projecting system response to environmental change. To this end, MAPS will provide a vehicle for education, training, and outreach that includes informing policymakers and managers.

The MAPS Research Areas:

1. Aquatic Microbiome Systems

Team leaders: Walter Dodds (KSU), Lydia Zeglin (KSU) and Amy Burgin (KU)

The goal: To understand how connectivity between the terrestrial and aquatic environments influences and structures microbiomes with a focus on the aquatic microbiomes of rivers, streams (intermittent and permanent), and reservoirs.

2. Plant Microbiome Systems

Team Leaders: Jim Bever (KU), Greg Houseman (WSU), and Ben Sikes (KU)

The goal: To understand how the microbiomes of plants impact terrestrial ecosystem functions with a focus on plant microbiome structure and function, and the contribution of different types of microbiomes to plant productivity.

3. Soil Microbiome Systems

Team Leaders: Sharon Billings (KU), Chuck Rice (KSU), Mitch Greer (FHSU), and Matt Kirk (KSU)

The goal: To understand how soil microbiome identity and functioning influence key ecosystem-scale processes. These include site productivity, nutrient availability, soil organic C retention versus release, and characteristics of surrounding water bodies.

4. Synthesis of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Microbiome Systems

Team Leaders: Jim Bever (KU), Tom Platt (KSU), and Folashade Agusto (KU)

The goal: To integrate scientific outputs from research areas 1 to 3 dealing with the structure and function of the plant and soil microbiomes. This is the unifying goal of the project.

The MAPS project will enhance research capacity associated with aquatic, plant, and soil microbiome systems as well as their integrated connections while empowering a diverse, next-generation workforce through education, outreach, and professional partnerships.




(RII Track-1 Award)

NSF EPSCoR RII Track–1 Awards provide up to 20 million dollars, total, for 5 years to support physical, human, and cyberinfrastructure improvements in research areas selected by the jurisdiction’s EPSCoR steering committee. The selected project is designed to have the best potential to improve the jurisdiction’s future research and development competitiveness.