It’s a Small World After All: Experts Explore the Microbiome at Virtual Conversations Event

On August 19, Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, of Washington University in St. Louis, and Danforth Center Principal Investigator Becky Bart, PhD, discussed the importance of the microbiome at the Danforth Center’s virtual Conversations event.

Together they introduced viewers to the complex communities of microbes in the soil and in our bodies and explained how they can help solve global challenges. The event was moderated by Darryl M. Chatman, SVP of Governance and Compliance for the United Soybean Board, and was virtually attended by participants from more than 200 unique households.

Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, of Washington University in St. Louis, spoke at the Danforth Center’s virtual Conversations event. He is working to prevent malnutrition in children by promoting healthy microbiomes.

A Healthy Future

“We live in a world dominated by microbes,” said Dr. Gordon, who is known as the “father of the microbiome.” From within our gut, microbiota affect many aspects of our lives and health, including bone growth and neurodevelopment. Without a healthy microbiome, many children still suffer from undernutrition, even after receiving the proper calories. To combat this, Dr. Gordon and his team are working to develop food supplements that promote healthy microbiota.

We have the tools to overcome this problem. We just need to put in the effort.

Becky Bart, PhD, Principal Investigator 


Sweating the Small Stuff

Just as human health is inextricably linked to the microbiota, soil microbiomes influence the health of crops, humans, and the planet. Currently, as Dr. Bart explained, synthetic fertilizers are harmful to the environment. The Danforth Center’s new Subterranean Influences on the Nitrogen Cycle (SINC) Center is working to harness microbes in the soil to allow plants to fertilize themselves—thus decreasing the need for damaging chemical fertilizers.

Danforth Center Principal Investigator Becky Bart, PhD, speaking at virtual Conversations. Dr. Bart and her lab are working to utilize the plant microbiome to help reduce the need for harmful chemical fertilizers.

The Root of the Matter

In their pursuit to solve pressing global challenges, Dr. Bart and her team utilize many of the Danforth Center’s unique facilities. These include the Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility, the new field research site, and the Center’s groundbreaking CT X-ray facility, which allow our researchers to study roots in a way never before possible – but essential to understanding the soil microbiome.

You Can Play a Role

Plants can do amazing things. At the Danforth Center, we are working to develop crops that heal our environment while feeding the world. You can be a part of this work. To join us in our efforts to improve the human condition through plant science, click here to donate today.

Watch the Event
From the Ground to Your Gut: The Microscopic Rulers of Your Health

Media Sponsors

For information on sponsoring virtual Conversations, contact Isabel Acevedo, Corporate and Foundation Relations Coordinator, at 314.324.5401 or