Microbiomes Under the Microscope

More than 350 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences stakeholders took an up-close look at the potential of microbiomes for improving health and agriculture as they gathered for this year’s Stewards of the Future conference.

“Microbiomes: Unseen Opportunities for Agriculture and Health” was held Oct. 20 at NC State University’s McKimmon Center. It featured presentations, videos and panel discussions with leading experts, including Drs. Jack Gilbert, director of the University of Chicago Microbiome Center; Gwyn Beattie, the Robert Earle Buchanan Distinguished Professor of Bacteriology at Iowa State University; Rob Dunn, NC State professor of applied ecology; and Matt Koci, NC State associate professor of poultry science.

Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms that live on or in people, plants, soils, oceans and the atmosphere, and CALS is emerging as a leader in exploring their potential use in agriculture and health.

At the event’s Innovation Fair, leading faculty showcased ongoing and emerging scientific research. First place for the best exhibits went to the Center for Environmental Farming System; second, the Shank Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and third, Kevin Blackburn of the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory in NC State’s Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry.

Two bee-related projects (one faculty and one student) won the conference’s Outstanding Research Award competition: Dr. Parry Kietzman, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, won the faculty contest for her video on “Mapping the Honey Bee Pathogen Web,” while Joseph Milone, who is pursuing a master’s degree in apiculture, took the student prize with his honeybee toxicological research video.

The conference was co-hosted by the college, the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc. and the North Carolina Agricultural and Life Sciences Research Foundation and supported by agricultural, biotechnology and allied industry partners, including BASF, Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Novozymes, NC State Kenan Institute and SePRO.

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