Welcome to the Laforest Lab at Université de Sherbrooke
This website showcases research led by the team of Pr. Isabelle Laforest-Lapointe, Canada Research Chair Tier II in Applied Microbial Ecology and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the Université de Sherbrooke (UdeS). As microbial ecologists, we use community ecology concepts to study host-microbe interactions and their influence on host fitness (plant and human) as well as on ecosystems.
Microbial ecology, a synergy between microbiology, ecology, and bioinformatics, has revealed an important role for host-microbe interactions as drivers of ecosystem functions such as productivity, resilience, or resistance to pathogens. In our group, we use microbial ecology to explore multi-domain host-microbe interactions in a context of (1) temporal variation of taxonomic and functional microbial community structure; (2) increasing abiotic stresses due to global change; and (3) development of microbial bio-control technologies (synthetic communities) as an alternative to chemicals.
My Canada Research Chair T2 in microbial ecology aims to expand our mechanistic understanding of plant-microbe symbioses and improve technologies aimed at maintaining ecosystem productivity, resilience, and resistance.
In macro-ecology, research on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning has demonstrated links between plant diversity and ecosystem functions (e.g. productivity).
In a study published in Nature (Laforest-Lapointe et al. 2017), we demonstrated that leaf-associated microbial communities play a significant role in driving terrestrial ecosystem productivity and we suggested that incorporating data on host-associated microbial community improves models of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning.
Global change is a defining feature of the Anthropocene, the current human-dominated epoch, and poses imminent threats to ecosystem dynamics and services such as plant productivity, biodiversity, and environmental regulation. In this era, terrestrial ecosystems are experiencing perturbations linked to direct habitat modifications as well as indirect effects of global change on species distribution and extreme abiotic conditions. Microbes are an important reservoir of biodiversity that can influence macro-organisms as they face global change.
In this review in ISMEJ (Perreault & Laforest-Lapointe 2021) we show how plant-microbe interactions in the phyllosphere can influence host survival and fitness in the context of global change.