On the prairies of central North America, water is a critical resource that can limit growth and survival. Many organisms from such dry environments have evolved adaptations to help them cope with this environmental stress. However, not much is known about whether neighboring species help each other adapt, compete with each other for water, or simply evolve on separate, parallel tracks. Dr. Wagner will present some of her recent research on the evolution of drought resistance in a wild prairie plant (eastern gamagrass) and its microbial neighbors.
Dr. Maggie R. Wagner earned a B.S. in Plant Biology at the University of Michigan (2009), followed by an Ph.D. in Genetics & Genomics at Duke University (2016). Her dissertation research focused on the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of phenotypic plasticity in a wild perennial mustard species. As a graduate student she developed strong interest in plant-associated microbiomes both as part of the plant’s environment and as an “extended phenotype” of the plant host. She was awarded an NSF Plant Genome Postdoctoral Fellowship to investigate how modern breeding affects the composition and function of the corn microbiome, while based at North Carolina State University. In 2019, she established her lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas, where she continues to work on the complex interplay between plant genotype, phenotype, and microbiome.