Reid Longley is a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory studying the evolutionary consequences of interactions between soil fungi and bacteria. During his graduate studies at Michigan State University, Longley used various omics methods to understand how environmental stressors impact microbiomes associated with crop plants and reef-building corals. We recently talked with Reid about his research. (Answers have been lightly edited.)
How did you get interested in microbiome research?
I became interested in microbiome research during an undergraduate class at the University of Montana when I learned about the diverse bacterial communities that thrive in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. I was amazed at the diversity of bacteria that can survive in such an extreme environment. This interest led me to pursue undergraduate research studying the biology of the unique bacteria living in hot springs.
Briefly describe your project as if you were talking to your grandmother. What excites you about your current research project?
My current research focuses on bacteria which live inside the cells of soil-dwelling fungi, similar to bacteria which live inside the human gut.
What excites you about your current research project?
I am excited about this research because it will contribute to our understanding of how bacteria adapt and evolve to their environments which is relevant to diverse microbiomes associated with human health and agriculture.
How does your work contribute to researchers’ understanding of the microbiome?
My work demonstrates that all eukaryotic organisms can host microbiomes even if the organisms are themselves microbes. This contributes to an increasingly complex view of the microbiome and demonstrates that researchers must consider “microbiomes within microbiomes”. Overall, this research demonstrates that organisms within a microbiome interact in a variety of ways which contribute to changes in microbiome functioning.
What song do you currently have on repeat?
Would That I by Hozier.
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