Ash Reddy ’25


Molecular Biology

Project Title

gineering Auxin Plant Hormone Degrading Bacteria for Improved Plant Growth and Productivity

Presentation Link

View Ash's Presentation

I studied Variovorax, a bacterial genus that is part of a synthetic microbiome used to model the plant microbiome of natural soil. My project focused on the role of Variovorax in auxin degradation. Auxins are plant hormones that are produced and degraded by members of this synthetic microbial community. They can have various effects on plant development and immunity. Variovorax has been demonstrated to have a role in maintaining plant development by preventing root growth inhibition. I set up and maintained a plant assay to measure phenotypic differences with active and inactive versions of Variovorax along with the rest of the 35-member synthetic microbial community. I started the assay from the point of germination and replicated it for three plant species. I learned about the vital role that the plant microbiome plays in plant development and immunity and gained experience in the specialized laboratory techniques required to manipulate the plant microbiome. I experienced the trial and error of research firsthand and gained a deep appreciation for the pursuit of knowledge.

* This internship is connected to the HMEI Water and the Environment Grand Challenges project, “Probing Microbial Colonization of Plants During Drought to Enable Microbiome-Mediated Resilience in Crops.”

Internship Year


Project Category

Sustainable Food Systems


Conway Lab, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Jonathan Conway, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering