Phytobiome Research

Goal $25,000

Raised $3,506

Phytobiome Research

Raising research funding is hard for university students. Please help fund phytobiome research.

Project Description

Thought plants were boring? Really? Human life on earth depends on plants! Plants are more than just green leafy things! They are covered all over with a vast microbiome, including bacteria, fungi, and protists. Plants also interact very closely with the soil food web and with organisms on their leaves. We know very little about all the organisms living on and in plants and how those interact in natural and disturbed systems. Studying plants as complex eco(systems) is a phytobiome research approach. A phytobiome is defined as a plant, its associated organisms and the environment, and is a crucial new field that can help with sustainable food, biodiversity conservation, forestry, and many other applied applications.

This PhD research examines the impact of simulated climate warming and nitrogen deposition on the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco), western red cedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D.Don), and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) phytobiomes. These tree species are iconic and ubiquitous in coastal Pacific Northwest forests. There is lots to learn about all three species, and especially very little is known about the red cedar phytobiome! A recent Botany 2021 conference abstract on this research was selected for an Ecological Section registration award:

Laura Super, University of British Columbia, Advisor: Dr. Robert Guy, For the Presentation: The impact
of simulated climate change and nitrogen deposition on conifer phytobiomes and associated vegetation

Co-author: Dr. Robert Guy

Laura Super was awarded a NSERC-CGS-D3 (Ecology and Evolution) for studying at UBC:

Want to learn more? Ask us (see “About the Phytobiome Research Project Team” below) and also, as a first start, see these below Wikipedia pages on the three tree species and the phytobiome:

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco):

Western red cedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D.Don):

Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.):


Challenges and Impact of Your Support

Acquiring research funds as a student, staff, or community member is very difficult. A related initiative to raise awareness about this issue is here: As science grows and adapts in the 21st century, equitable research funding will be increasingly important given we need all minds working on the complex problems we face: climate change, habitat loss, biodiversity loss, social inequities, etc. After UBC crowdfunding is finished, this initiative will continue, so stay tuned for long-term ways to help!

About the Phytobiome Research Project Team

This team involves: Laura Super (UBC PhD Candidate, Forest and Conservation Sciences, supervisor: Robert Guy) and others (students, staff, faculty, and community members) who are supporting these efforts through quiet or behind-the-scenes volunteering, fundraising, etc. Learn more about the Phytobiome Research Project, and related concepts with the creative efforts of the Phytobiome Research Working Group (PRWG) here: