Researcher at the TROE Center.

Explorations in the Turfgrass Phytobiome: Understanding Microbial Associations and Developing Tools for Management

Principal Investigator

Eric Watkins

Department and College

Department of Horticultural Science in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Project Number


Funding Type


Partnering States

  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin

Project Start and End Date

November 22, 2016-September 30, 2021

Project Summary

Many turfgrass species are utilized throughout the various geographic regions in the U.S. Diverse environments and climates require the use of these differing adapted species, and also subject them to a wide range of abiotic and biotic stressors including soil type, temperature extremes, bacteria, fungi, and insect pests. Developing projects across geographically diverse regions will enhance our understanding of the microbial communities that inhabit turfgrasses, as previous research has illustrated the significant impact environment can have on these communities. While diverse scientists encompass our group, this research project will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and research techniques. Moreover, the results generated from this work will provide the framework for future research developing applications in the turfgrass phytobiome.

Ultimately, applications developed within the turfgrass phytobiome will be a fundamental component of integrated pest management and plant health programs. Using this approach, we can come together to manage turfgrass using sustainable practices that reduce our reliance on freshwater resources, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticide inputs while still producing functional and aesthetically pleasing golf courses, landscapes, and home lawns. Project members will communicate research results to industry practitioners through regional and national seminars, symposia, peer-reviewed publications, research field days, and web-based platforms.