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Soil Microbiology research at Washington State University focuses on biological soil fertility and nutrient transformations. Bacteria, fungi, and archaea in soil contribute to physical, chemical, and biological soil health and quality though a variety of mechanisms. Agroecosystems present not only a critical setting in which we gain vital information to understand how management may foster healthy soils to sustainably feed the earth’s growing populus, but also allow us a certain level of control under which we gain basic understanding of the phylogeny and function of microbial communities under a wide array of conditions and crops. Our fundamental goal is to leverage the vast capabilities of the soil microbial communities to sustainably enhance crop quality and yield.



Lynne Carpenter Boggs in a lab coat

Lynne Carpenter-Boggs

I conduct research in sustainable and organic agriculture, with an emphasis on biological soil fertility. Current project areas include life cycle analysis of farming, management for soil health, mycorrhizal colonization of alternative crops, acid-tolerant rhizobia, and compost tea.


Deirdre Griffin.

Deirdre Griffin LaHue

My research focuses on the impacts of agricultural practices (e.g. cover cropping, tillage, amendments, rotations) on soil health and the soil organisms that facilitate many of the functions we look for in a healthy soil, including strong aggregate structure, efficient cycling of nutrients and carbon, and disease suppression. I take a systems approach to understand processes occurring at the micro-scale, such as microbial community shifts, nutrient dynamics, or changes in carbon pools, and to link them to outcomes at the field-scale to develop soil management strategies that will improve the productivity, profitability, and long-term resilience of our cropping systems. I am also working to identify regionally-relevant benchmark values of soil health indicators to track progress towards improved soil sustainability.


Tarah Sullivan.

Tarah Sullivan

My research emphasizes linking the function and phylogeny of the soil microbiome, specifically with regard to interactions with plant roots and impacts on metal bioavailability and plant uptake. The soil microbiome is key in the biotransformations of many micronutrients and metals in the rhizosphere; these consortia and the mechanisms involved, drives my work.