Microgreens is the official podcast of the MPMI journal and was launched by Dr. Raka Mitra in 2019: the first episode was released shortly after the IS-MPMI Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, with support from Dr. Jeanne Harris. Soon after, Raka tag-teamed with Dr. Tess Deyet and later with us(!): Dr. Tiff Mak and Dr. Dominique Holtappels. Now, Tiff and Dominique are taking over hosting Microgreens from Raka. We have some big shoes to fill, but we are so excited to collaborate and bring you great episodes about plants, microbes, and the people who study them…because, let's be honest, aren't we all bored with those daily news podcasts? And, wouldn't we rather listen to all the amazing and exciting stories of the research and researchers in our field?
Yes, totally! And, what kind of stories will you tell?
Aha! Great question! During the IS-MPMI Congress in Glasgow, a survey was conducted to figure out what the biggest questions were in the field, resulting in the "Top 10 Unanswered Questions of MPMI." This list was exactly what Microgreens was all about at the beginning: interviewing prominent researchers in the field about their take on the top 10 unanswered questions. In the first episode, Raka interviewed Dr. Jeff Dangle, for example, to learn more about how the plant microbiome influences the plant immune system. On another episode, we hosted a conversation with Dr. Ralph Panstruga and Dr. Matthew Moscou about their review paper on nonhost resistance in plants. In one of our more recent episodes, we interviewed Dr. Cara Haney and Dr. David Thoms about how plants recognize friend from foe. We've also released episodes on other questions, like the one in which Deyet talked with Dr. Jennifer Lewis about the devastating effects of citrus greening.
That sounds rather complex…Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is primarily graduate students, postdocs, professors, and other researchers in the field. In our newest episode, for example, we talked with Dr. Tessa Burch-Smith about the journey of a manuscript after it is submitted to a journal. By telling this story, we want to give early-career researchers a glimpse of what happens within the MPMI journal, and we think our episode is a great resource for graduate students who are submitting their first manuscript. However, we make our episodes in such a way that undergraduate students interested in plants and their microbes also can follow the science. We cast a wide net because we want to inform people as much as we can on recent developments in the field, so anyone interested in plants and microbes can listen to Microgreens and get the most recent updates from the field!
You also mentioned that Microgreens tells the stories behind the scenes.
Yes, totally! We're not only fascinated by the amazing research in the field and all the progress that is being made to understand the complexity of plants and their microbes, but we also want to highlight the people who study these interactions. We all have our own journeys in science, and we all have our own stories to tell. At Microgreens, we want to give researchers a platform to amplify their voice and inspire the next generation of researchers! This is also why we put great efforts into highlighting the diversity in MPMI research and share these stories. In one of our earlier episodes, Deyet interviewed Dr. Jennifer Lewis about her take on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in her lab and more broadly, in her approach to science. We believe it is so important to highlight these efforts to inspire young people, but also for the future of MPMI.
What do you have planned for us in the next months?
Well, we are not going to spoil too much…but in our next episodes, we have some amazing stories from researchers sharing their inspiring journeys in science and how their perseverance got them to the stage they are at now. And, we're going to talk about some exciting new research along the way, so stay tuned for the next episode of Microgreens and, while you wait, check out previous Microgreens podcasts!
Dr. Dominique Holtappels is a bioscience engineer and postdoctoral researcher working with Prof. Britt Koskella at the University of California, Berkeley. Here, he studies the interaction of bacteriophages and their host in the pear phyllosphere, the drivers of phage host range, and how the evolutionary pressure posed by phages steers bacterium–plant interactions.
Dr. Tiff Mak is a postdoctoral researcher working at the intersection of microbial ecology, fermentation, and integrated food systems. They are interested in living systems and the relationality of beings, from the scale of the microbial to the planetary, and see ecology as a way to connect and share stories around community and plurality. They are currently based at the NNF Center for Biosustainability at DTU in Denmark, cocreating regenerative and more equitable food system futures alongside microbes.