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Lab Personnel

PI: Dr. Jorge Vivanco, PhD

photo of Dr. Jorge Vivanco

Dr. Jorge Vivanco is a Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University. He received a B.S. degree in Agronomy from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima-Peru, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from The Pennsylvania State University.  He joined CSU in 2000 to start a program on root biology and the interactions of roots with surrounding organisms.

The primary responsibility of Dr. Vivanco’s program is to develop knowledge on root-microbe interactions related to horticultural crops that could lead to new agricultural technologies and applications.  His program interacts with stakeholders such as horticultural producers and companies interested in this scientific space to create the next generation of products and technologies in agriculture.  In addition, knowledge derived from this program is disseminated to the potato growers in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, as well as to horticultural producers in Colorado and abroad.

Dr. Vivanco’s laboratory has published extensively on these topics (133 research papers) and he has edited two books. His current research focuses on the interactions of roots with the soil microbiome. Recent research suggests that roots can culture specific microbes and microbial functions depending on the stage of development and needs of the crop.  Teasing apart these observations through continued experimentation will catalyze the next agricultural revolution – one that promotes sustainability. This agricultural awakening will involve utilizing the full genetic potential of a crop to promote soil microbial diversity, health and resilience.

Dr. Vivanco interacts closely with the scientific community as a reviewer of scientific publications, research grants and as an Associate Editor of the journal Microbial Ecology. On December 18th, 2014 he was invited to attend a round table discussion in the Office of Science and Technology (OST) of the U.S. White House.  The purpose of this meeting was to initiate discussions to educate the OST on the science, applications and policy related to The Microbiome.  The associate director of this office had weekly meetings with President Obama and wanted to bring this topic to his attention for further development, which is currently ongoing.  Dr. Vivanco has taught the graduate course Roots and Rhizosphere Biology and currently teaches Medicinal and Value Added Uses of Plants.

Dr. Vivanco is married to Dr. Tiffany Weir (Associate Professor of Food Sciences at CSU) and has two sons: Jorge and John. He and his family enjoy travelling to new places to experience new cultures and food.

Lab Members

Carley Rohrbaugh

Carley Rohrbaugh

Carley is a graduate research assistant who began her M.S. program in 2021. She graduated from Texas State University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Horticulture and Psychology. After graduating, Carley worked at a greenhouse clonal propagating native woody plants and as a farm assistant at a regenerative farm. She has spent many years as an active volunteer with environmental education and horticulture therapy programs. Carley’s current research is studying the effect various fertilizers have on the soil microbiome.

Samira Islas Valdez

Samira Islas Valdez

Samira is a post-doc in the department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Samira got her PhD from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Agricultural Chemistry. Samira has acquired experience in the characterization of waste-based fertilizers and complexing agents by several spectroscopic techniques. Samira’s research has been focused on identifying the parameters that affect the efficacy of complexing agents to provide micronutrients to Fe- or Mn-deficient plants grown under hydroponics and calcareous soil conditions as an alternative to traditional fertilizers. Her current research focuses on evaluating different artificial root exudate blends that either directly or indirectly promote P solubilization.

Antisar Afkairin

Antisar Akfairin

Antisar is a post-doc in the department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Her research focuses on soil bacterial communities and plant nutrition, and P solubilization. She got her Ph.D. from Colorado State University in Soil and Crop Science and she acquired experience during her research in the different fields of soil fertility, soil microbiology, microbial ecology, and botany. Antisar’s aim is to allow the crop’s ability to get phosphorus for the soil by services from microbes already in the soil, rather than trying to get those services by chemicals.

Mary Dixon

Mary Dixon

Mary is a Ph.D. student in the department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Her research focuses on examining the plant-soil interface to enhance soil nutrient cycling. Mary’s experience is in soil nutrition from her time studying tomato genotypic variability in phosphorus use efficiency at the University of Florida. After graduating with her M.S. degree in horticultural sciences, Mary worked as an urban regional extension agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Derek Newberger

Derek Newberger

Derek Newberger graduated from Baylor University in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology. Originally pursing a medical doctorate, Derek changed his career path after his impactful experience of releasing 250 baby sea turtles of the coast of Mexico. From there, Derek was interested in sustainability and changed his undergraduate thesis to anthropogenic metal accumulation in American Crocodiles. Next, in the Peace Corps, Derek lived in Panama or over two years where he worked on ecological sustainable projects like reforestation and constructing fuel efficient wood burning stoves. While Derek lived in this small rural mountain town, growers were changing from sustainably growing sugar cane to conventional farming tomatoes to improve their quality of life. This change from sustainable growing, to needing irrigation and pesticides, had a large impact on the environment in a short time. Seeing a growing need for sustainable agriculture, Derek went to the University of San Francisco for a M.S. in Biology and had the privilege to work with Star Route Farms, the longest continually certified organic farm in California. His thesis was on the characterization of the phyllosphere of cover crops. Derek is now a Ph.D. student in the Vivanco lab, looking for sustainable cropping techniques to alleviate replant disease in peaches.

Lab Alumni

Hugo Pantigoso Guevara

Hugo Pantigoso Guevara

Hugo is a Ph.D. candidate at The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture studying Rhizophere Biology. Hugo’s research focuses on understanding the interplay between soil microbial communities and root exudates in the rhizosphere of plant crops and Arabidopsis. Hugo holds training and has gained experience within the fields of soil microbiology, microbial ecology, plant biology and crop production. Hugo’s research goal is to help develop biological based fertilizer that improve plant productivity and health.

Michael J. DiLegge

Mike DiLegge was former a graduate student and was active in the Vivanco lab from November 2015 – July 2020. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture (w/ botany minor) at CSU in May of 2018 while conducting undergraduate research, and a Master’s degree under Dr. Jorge Vivanco in 2020. During his time in the Center of Rhizosphere Biology, Mike’s research revolved around plant-microbial interactions in the rhizosphere. In the past Mike’s research was surrounding biological control organisms of Meloidogyne spp. nematodes, in addition to mechanisms aimed toward reduce symptoms of orchard replanting disease. Mike’s MS thesis was titled “Elucidating rhizobacterial response to autoclave disruption and crop introduction within three agricultural soils” and accepted by CSU in summer of 2020. Now, Mike is working for a company on tissue culture clean-stock production of Cannabis sativa L. with goals to further his education in host-associated microbiome sciences down the road.

Dr. Marcia Leite dos Santos

Photo of Marcia Leite dos Santos

Dr. Marcia Leite dos Santos received her bachelor’s degree in Biological sciences at Federal University of Sergipe in Brazil, 2010. Marcia then received a MS degree in Physiological Sciences at Federal University of Sergipe in Brazil, 2013.  Marcia received her second MS degree in Agronomy at Feredal Univeristy of Layras in Brazil, 2015. Marcia Leite dos Santos earned a PhD in Genetics and Plant Breeding at Luiz de Queiroz, College of Agriculture – ESALQ, University of São Paulo, Brazil.  From 2017-2018, Marcia took on the position of Research Scholar under the advisory of Dr. Jorge Manuel Vivanco in the CRB at Colorado State University. Marcia’s research interests act mainly on the following topics: Plant genetics with emphasis on Insect/Plant/Root/Microorganism interactions, Rhizosphere Proteomics and Microbiological Biotechnology against herbivorous insects.  

Dr. Jamal Javanmardi

photo of jamal javanmardi

Dr. Jamal Javanmardi, formerly an associate professor from Shiraz University, was pursuing his sabbatical leave at CRB from 2018-2019. In the CRB he worked on the physiological interaction of basil roots with the soil microbiome as well as secondary metabolite profiling of basil cultivars. His research and educational interests are focused on Controlled Environmental Vegetable Production/Physiology, Organic Vegetable Production and Vegetable Transplant Production. Dr. Javanmardi is now a professor at California State University, Chico. 

Yanhui He

photo of yanhuihe

Yanhui He graduated in 2016 from Shihezi University with a M.E. degree in Environmental Chemical Engineering. She was a visiting scholar in the Center for Rhizosphere Biology at CSU supported by China Scholarship Council. Yanhui He is currently working on the interaction between root and microbe, especially on the salt stress alleviating effects of bacteria on plant.

Dr. Qinggang Guo

photo of Qinggang Guo

Dr. Qinggang Guo, was a professor visiting from the Plant Protection Institute;  Hebei Agricultural and Forestry Science, in Baoding, China. He received his doctor degree in China Agricultural University in 2007. During 2018-2019, Dr. Guo was a visiting scholar in the Lab of Dr. Jorge Vivanco, and worked on the ecological mechanism of Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR). His research interests are focused on the ecology and molecular genetics of biocontrol agents, especially for the members of Bacillus genus.

Dr. Qiuju Qin

photo of Qiuji Qin

Dr. Qiuju Qin was a visiting scholar at CSU and an associate professor at the Agricultural University of Hebei, China. She received a M.S. degree in Agricultural Insect and Pest Control from Agricultural University of Hebei in 2002 and a Ph.D. degree in Agricultural insect and pest control from China Agricultural University in 2005. Her research interests focus on interactions between Insect/Plant/Microorganisms. Dr. Qin was a member of the CRB from 2018-2019.

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