October 16-17, 2018 | Lincoln, Nebraska
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2018 NRIC speakers
portrait of Christine Hawkes


Christine Hawkes
North Carolina State University
Can the plant mycobiome serve as a tool for improving grass stress resistance?
Plant symbiotic fungi can mediate plant stress physiology and thus provide a potential tool for increasing the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems. The development of such novel tools will be particularly important in the future given expectations of increasing drought and water scarcity. We focus on widespread foliar fungal endophytes in C4 grasses, where we have discovered a wide array of host-fungal relationships and traits to predict those functions. However, the observed benefits of individual fungi vary with the abiotic environment and biotic interactions, suggesting that implementation in real-world systems requires a mechanistic understanding with ecological context.
Christine Hawkes received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bucknell University in 1993 and her Ph.D. in Biology in 2000 from the University of Pennsylvania. This was followed by a Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship in Conservation Biology at the University of California Berkeley and a NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Microbial Biology at the University of York in the UK. Since 2018, she has been a Professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at NC State University. Dr. Hawkes’ research encompasses both basic and applied aspects of plant-microbe interactions and their role in communities and ecosystems. Current projects include understanding the role of plant symbionts in plant drought physiology, historical contingencies in soil microbial responses to climate change that affect carbon cycling, and drivers of microbial community assembly.