Welcome to the Horton Lab Website. Our group uses methods from population genetics, molecular genetics, statistics, and ecology to ask how plants adapt to both abiotic and biotic stresses, in new and changing environments.
A major interest of the lab is the plant-microbiome, which is shaped by a combination of environmental factors, interactions among microbes, and genetic differences among hosts. These microbial communities contribute to nutrient uptake and pathogen resistance, and the number of genes within the microbiome are on the order of (or outnumber) those in the host. Because these genes sometimes encode functionality not found in the host's genome, a host and its microbial community can, in a way, be considered a superorganism. Much of our research focuses on questions relating to how this superorganism forms. How do the genes within the microbiome and the genes within the host-plant interact? Does the microbiome contribute to variation in plant phenotypes, or help the plant respond to environmental stress? In addition, we investigate the genetic basis of ecologically relevant traits, focusing on plant-phenotypes that are believed to shape the microbiome.
You can learn more about our research by clicking on the links.
Joining the lab
We are always looking for enthusiastic new group members. Prospective MSc students and summer interns should contact me, Yvonne Steinbach (metabolomics), or Jana Mittelstrass (metagenomics) directly. While doing so, please briefly describe your background and what you are most interested in.