Microbial Inheritance from the womb

In a brief departure from microbial inheritance in plants, I would like to highlight a New York Times article reporting on new scientific observations about microbial inheritance in people. The article, entitled Human Microbiome May Be Seeded Before Birth discusses the mounting evidence that babies are not born sterile – rather they receive their first, diverse, microbial inoculum in the womb, from their mother. This comes at a time when we are beginning to appreciate the importance of mother-infant microbial transmission in determining the child’s health, discussed here, in a recent NY Times article from Michael Pollan.

Fusarium: not your friendliest seedborne microbe

Hi all,

It’s been one hot summer in the Pacific NW! I hope your corn is doing okay!

I’ve been plowing through a bunch of lab and field work, with plenty of pictures to share.

Let’s start with one of the more infamous, but beautiful, seed-associated microbes of them all, Fusarium. This fungus is highly prevalent in seeds. If the conditions favor it, some pathogenic strains of this fungus can attack your corn. Cold, wet springs give it the pathogen an advantage over seedlings. Hot, dry summers will cause a late-season rot, as Fusarium takes over stressed plants. Although Fusarium can also confer benefits to the plant under other circumstances, we generally would prefer it NOT to be inherited in our seeds. Some of you may see the effects of Fusarium this summer, especially if your corn was water-stressed.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken from the lab as I have been working with Fusarium.

Has your corn been struggling with the sumer heat? Think you might have a Fusarium infection?  Add a comment below or email me. lnebert <at> uoregon <dot> edu