Microbial Plant Symbionts

Cyanobacteria (blue dots) inside the coralloid cycad root

Cycads have adapted to extreme habitats where other plants can barely survive, like rock outcrops, or salty dunes. We think microbiomes that live inside specialized roots of the cycad are key to this ability. 


If you're interested about this project, don't hesitate to contact us. Dr. Angelica Cibrian Jaramillo is the person to write to. 


Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa

19.826738780344, -96.1447432



Cycads and their microbial symbionts

My previous research showed that there are conserved groups of cyanobacteria and Rhizobiales that have co-adapted to cycads. They help the plant capture and use metals and nutrients from the soil. Using metagenomics and metabolomics, we will expand our current sampling of cycads from the Americas to Asia and Africa, and compare the bacterial, fungal and viruses that are found inside the cycad. We will investigate the evolutionary mechanisms that these microbiomes have to they help the plant pairing genomics with computer tomography, and Desorption Electrospray Ionization to get at the chemical and anatomical mechanisms of these interactions. We also explore if these microbiomes get transferred from the cycad to the insects that only eat cycads, because we think that the microbiome is the conductor of the plant-insect-microbe orchestra. Some of this work is inspiring nature-based solutions.

Who works
on this project?

We are a new group at Naturalis, come join us! 

We collaborate

We collaborate on the chemistry and DESI methods with Dr. Paco Barona at University of Leiden: https://tinyurl.com/2tzmud99. We are also part of a larger cycad microbial consortium with Spain (Dr. Vicente Mariscal) Germany (Dr. Michelle Gehringer) and Canada (Dr. Juan Carlos Villarreal) among others. We also work with the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden with their fantastic cycad collection (Dr. Paul Kessler).