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North Florida Research And Education Center

North Florida Research And Education Center

Dr. Liao, Hui-Ling (Sunny)

Assistant Professor
Soil Microbial Ecology

 Dr. Liao specializes in symbiosis research, particularly microbial mutualisms. Her primary interests lie at understanding relationships between microbial diversity and their function to the ecosystem. Current research areas include applying integrated metaomics to visualize the role of soil microbiomes play on nutrient cycling, plant fitness and (natural/agro-) ecosystem processes.

 Dr. Liao's extension program mission is to extend our fundamental research to put into new generation agricultural management plans. The current extension projects aim at providing growers with information on improving soil health and crop productivity through the detection/prediction of microbial dynamics and applying the emerging technologies to highlight the importance of ecosystem services provided by microbiomes.


For more infromation use Dr. Liao's Lab link proivded on the right side of this page.

  • Research

    Dr. Liao specializes in symbiosis research, particularly microbial mutualisms. Her primary interests lie at understanding relationships between microbial diversity and their function to the ecosystem. Current research areas include applying integrated metaomics to visualize the role of soil microbiomes play on nutrient cycling, plant fitness and (natural/agro-) ecosystem processes.

  • Extension

    Our mission is to extend our fundamental research to put into new generation agricultural management plans. The current extension projects aim at providing growers with information on improving soil health and crop productivity through the detection/prediction of microbial dynamics and applying the emerging technologies to highlight the importance of ecosystem services provided by microbiomes.

  • Funding Sources (current and past)

    Current Funding Sources:

    External Grants:
    Year 2019-2022, Co-PI, DOE-BER-Systems Bio (DE-FOA-0002059). Molecular mechanisms of plant-mycorrhizal-decomposer interactions and impacts on terrestrial biogeochemistry ($1.2M)

    Year 2019-2022, PI, USDA-NIFA (2019-67013-29107). Scaling up the microbial-triggered functional responses to multiple practices in the forage system: From molecular to ecosystem services ($483,000)

    ​Year 2019-2022, co-PI, DOE-BER (DE-SC0012704). Development of a Full-Field X-ray fluorescence imaging system for near real-time trace element microanalysis of complex biological systems.

    Year 2018-2021, co-PI, SSARE (2017-38640-26914). Managing plant-parasitic nematodes and promoting beneficial soil organisms through sod-based crop rotation ($200,000)

    External User Proposal Awards (Only listed the projects with Liao as lead PI):
    Year 2019-2022, JGI-EMSL-FICUS (JGI ID505554; EMSL ID50960). Discover ectomycorrhizal fungi-triggered macro- and micronutrient reactions and movements.

    Year 2019-2021, BNL/NSLS2 (ID#304490). Spatial and temporal dynamics of micronutrients and iron in Pinus-Suillus rhizosphere soil during ectomycorrhizal symbiosis: Benchmark measurements

    ​Year 2018-2021, JGI-CSP (ID504376). Genetic, community and ecosystem consequences of co-introduction of mycorrhizal fungi with exotic pines

    Year 2016-2019 (extended to yr2020), JGI-EMSL-FICUS(ID49437/ID49514). Combined Omics to study ectomycorrhizal symbiosis between Suillus and Pinaceae

    Former Funding Sources:
    Internal Awards:
    Year 2019, PI, UF/IFAS-Equipment Grant Award. Discover the microbial-driven enzyme activities using Synergy TM H1 Hybrid Multi-Mode Reader ($23,500)

    Year 2018-2019, PI, UF/IFAS-IRIS, Imapcts of plant invasion and drought on plant-microbe symbiotic efficiency, mycorrhizal-driven nutrient cycling, and forest ecosystem services ($64,000)

    Year 2018, PI, UF/IFAS-Equipment Grant Award. Quantification and qualification of metagenomics and metatranscriptomics samples using fragment analyzer ($16,000)

    Year 2017-2018, PI, UF/IFAS Early Career Scientist Award. Genetic interaction of Pinaceae-Suillus. ($50,000)

    Year 2017, PI, UF/IFAS-Equipment Grant Award. Chemical imaging approaches to study plant-microbiome-environmental interactions using Raman microscope ($60,000)

    External Grants:
    Year 2016-2019, Senior Personnel, NSF-DBI(1554181). Evolutionary genomics of plant-fungal symbiosis ($940,000) 

    External User Proposal Awards (Only listed the projects with Liao as lead PI):

    Year 2017-2018, BNL/NSLS-II (ID301726). Evolution of Zn tolerance in symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi

Contact

Dr. Liao, Hui-Ling (Sunny)
North Florida Research and Education Center
155 Research Rd.
Quincy, FL 32351
Phone: 850-875-7198
Fax: 352-846-6617
Email@ufl.edu

  • Education
    • Ph.D. University of Florida, Dept. Plant Pathology
    • M.S. National Taiwan University, Dept. Plant Pathology
    • B.S. National Chung Hsing University, Dept. Plant Pathology
  • Publications
  • Professional Experiences, Activities, Services and Awards

    Professional Experience:

    • 2016-Present     Assistant Professor, Soil and Water Sciences Department, University of Florida
    • 2012-2016        Postdoctoral Research Associate, Duke University
    • 2008-2011        Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Florida, CREC
    • 2001-2004        Laboratory Coordinator and Instructor, Tunghai University, Taiwan
    • 2000-2001        Research Assistant, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan

    Professional Activities:  International workshops organization

    • H-L Liao Application of integrated omics for studies of microbial assembly, activities and their functions. 16 hours, 3rd International Conference on Biotechonology and Biodiversity (II CIBB), Guayaquil, Ecuador.
    • H-L Liao Application of next generation sequencing for studies of microbial communities and their function. Eight hours, 2nd International Conference on Biotechonology and Biodiversity (II CIBB), Guayaquil, Ecuador.

    International lectures

    • One of the organizers and the invited speaker for 45th New Phytologist Symposium: Ecological and evolutionary consequences of plant-fungal invasions at University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil (20-23rd, June 2020). The registration, accommodation and travel expenses will be supported by New Phytologist Trust Grant award.
    • Chen K-H, Liao H-L. Conducted an online international lecture to teach the MSc level students at the Centro de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas del Ecuador (CIBE) from the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Guayquil-Ecuador. Topic: Integrating omics to study biology and agricultural based sciences. (2 hr lectures, audience: 30, May 3rd 2018)

    Service for scientific conferences

    • Year 2018 (July 16-21), Co-organizer in section “Title: Integrative approaches to understanding the (biology) diversity and function of the Boletales”. 9th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (IMC 11), San Juan, PR

    Extension & Outreach Activities

    • Year 2019 (Aug 6), Presentation: Northwest District Horticulture PIT Meeting, Quincy FL (30min)
    • Year 2019 (July 8; July 14), Lecture: Applied Soil Microbiology Training (Mycorrhizae). Topic: Ectomycorrhizal Fungal Network: Using magic wood-wide web to manipulate usable plant food (https://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/soilmicro/) (2 hrs)
    • Year 2018 (Jan 22), In-Service-Training presentation: Ag IST. Title: Growth promoting microbes in crop production
    • Year 2017, Field Booth Setting: Beef Forage Field Day - Marianna, FL (6 hrs)
    • ​Year 2017, Workshop leading: Oyster mushroom cultivation, Tallahassee Nurseries, Tallahassee FL
    • Year 2017 (Sept 21), Workshop leading: Diversity of Pleurotus and Oyster mushroom cultivation, Calhoun county extension office, IFAS/UF
    • Year 2017 (Sept), On-farm service: Pine nursery, LTF greenhouses, Tifton GA
    • Year 2017 (July 13), Lecture: 6-7th grade, Gadsden County Middle School Field Trip. Topic: Kingdom of Soil Fungi
    • Year 2017 (May 24), Workshop leading: Fungal biology and mushroom cultivation, Leon county extension office, IFAS/UF
    • Year 2017-2019, Booth setting: Art, Garden and Farm Family Festival, NFREC, Quincy, FL (5hrs each year)
    • Year 2016-2018, Booth setting: Annual Tallahassee Science Festival, Kleman Plaza, Tallahassee, FL (6hrs each year)

    Memberships:

    • Member, Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), 2019-present
    • Member, Mycological Society of America (MSA), 2013, 2017-present
    • Member, Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Honorary Extension Society (ESP); 2019-present
    • Member, Genetic Society of America (GSA), 2014-2018
    • Member, The American Genetic Association, 2015-2016
    • Member, American Phytopathological Society, 2005-2016; 2019-present
    • Member, American Society for Horticultural Science, 2010-2012
    • Member, Gamma Sigma Delta, The Honor Society of Agriculture, 2005-2008
    • Member, Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society, 2005-2008
    • Member, Florida State Horticultural Society, 2005-2006

    Professional Services:
    External
    Editorial Advisory Board:
               
    Year 2016-Present, Editor Board, Rhizosphere
    ​            Year 2018-Present, Editor Board, Agronom
    Reviewer for Scholarly Journals:
                
    Some of the records were assigned to Publons Identifier: publons.com/a/1615467
    Internal
    NFREC Committee:
    Year 2017, Awards Committee
    Year 2018, Faculty Advisory Committee
    Year 2019, Safety Committee
    Year 2017-2018, Search and Screen Committee, Assistant Professor of Soil Microbial Ecology, SWSD, UF

  • Lab Group (Current & Alumni)

    Current Members:

    NameEducation
    Hui-Ling (Sunny) Liao, Supervisor

    Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology (Fall 2016- Present)
    E-mail: sunny.liao@ufl.edu; Office phone: 850-875-7198
    (Liao Profile)

    Adesuwa S. Erhunmwunse, Graduate Student

    Adesuwa earned her master’s degrees from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Nigeria and from Clemson University. At OAU, she worked on the combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers on soil microbial diversity and chemical properties. She also looked at the nutrient release pattern from these fertilizers. At Clemson University she focused on potassium fertilizer recommendations for soybean in South Carolina. She joined our lab this Summer 2019 for her Ph.D. program. Her research here will focus on understanding plant-soil-microbial interactions in forage cropping system.

    Xiaobo (Albert) Wang,
    Postdoctoral visit scholar

    Albert is an assistant professor of Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Science. He is a grassland ecologist. His main interests include soil microbial ecology, microbial biogeography, functional genomics, grassland community ecology and global change biology. Many of his works focus on understanding the dynamics of microbial biodiversity and their ecosystem function of grassland in response to global changes. He is currently studying the generalists and specialists of soil microbes across forage and cover cropping agroecosystem.

    Kaile Zhang, Graduate student

    Kaile has obtained his M.S. degree of Soil Science at Zhejiang University. His master’s thesis focused on the interaction between soil pH and carbon (C), nitrogen (N) mineralization in acid soil. His research interests focus on how the microbial communities are shaped by nutritional [e.g. C and N] and environmental variables, and how microbial-environmental interactions affect soil nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. He joined our lab from Fall 2018 for his Ph.D. program. Here, his research focuses on understanding the dynamics of soil microorganisms and their functionality in associated with sod-based rotation (SBR). In particular his study aims at understanding how the long-term SBR impacts on microbial triggered soil nutrient cycling.

    Chih-Ming (Jimmy) Hsu, Research Scientist

     Jimmy is involved in diverse projects running in the lab. His major is Entomology. Besides a bug lover, he is very good at next generation sequencing (NGS) technology, including DNA/RNA co-extraction, library preparation for NGS. Currently he trains the new joined lab members to preform NGS. He also maintains hundreds of cultures and performs soil bioassay for different lab projects. Apart of his main interests is to share the knowledge and skill of oyster mushroom cultivation to the community in state of Florida through workshop leading.

    Victor Guerra,
    Graduate student

    Victor is a Ph.D. student working with Dr. Cheryl Mackowiak.  He works in our lab for apart of his PhD projects that focus on understanding the community and functional shifts of soil and root microbiomes across different depth (0-48 inches) and water level using perennial peanuts as the system. He applies the next generation amplicon approaches on the study of community structures of bacteria (16S), fungi (ITS) and AMF (fungal SSU) in particular.

    Ko-Hsuan Chen,
    Postdoctoral associate
     Ko-Hsuan completed her M.S. program in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at National Taiwan University. Began her PhD. program in Dr. Francois Lutzoni's lab at Duke University, NC. She is a mycologist interested in how fungi interact with their hosts and environments, and how these interactions shape the evolutionary history, diversity and functional ecology of fungi. Her PhD thesis focused on the evolution of fungal endophytes and their functional transitions using the perennial moss - Dicranum scoparium as the model. To approach these questions, she integrated methods including phylogenetics, metatranscriptomics, amplicon sequencing, and culture-based plant-fungal bioassay.Prior to her PhD, she studied the taxonomy of Diatrypaceae (Ascomycota) in Taiwan based on morphological characters. Her current projects focus on understanding how plant-associated fungi can alter ecosystem nutrient transition underlying pine and moss systems. She is also leading the project to uncover the biodiversity of grass endophytes and their potential on the mycotoxin accumulation. 
       


    Alumni (Former Bio Scientist/Post Doc/Students/):

    NameEducation
    Neetika Thakur,
    Short Intern Scholar (Sept 2018-Nov 2018)
     Neetika is currently the Distanced Education program student (M.S. program) in the Department of Soil and Water Sciences, UF. She joined the lab as intern for 3 months.
    Anna Iriarte, Undergraduate short intern (June 2018-Aug 2018)
    Anna is currently the undergraduate student at University of Florida. She joined us as the summer intern, while she worked with Ko-Hsuan for the study that focuses on identifying the mycotoxins and fungal endophytes presenting in Florida's forage grass cultivars. This work was supported by FCA Enhancement Funds.
    Liangfeng Liu,
    Exchange graduate student (March 2018-Sept 2018)
    Liangfeng is currently the assistant professor at Northwest A&F University, China. She joined us as an exchange graduate student from Institute of Biology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Her visit was funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During her visit, she was involved in the project to investigate the shift of biodiversity of pine associated microbiomes as affected by the environmental disturbance (e.g., biological invasion, managed fire and drought stress).
    Min Wang,
    Visit Scholar (Dec 2017-June 2018)
    Min is the professor of Food Science and Engineering, Dept. of Life Science, Hengshui University. During her visit, she was involved in quantifying the chemical elements in the soils from the on-farm cover cropping system.
    Shuli Yin,
    Visit Scholar (Dec 2017-June 2018)
    Shuli is the Associate Investigator in the Edible Fungi Laboratory, Biology Institute, China. As the visit scholar she led the writing of an extension article (Entitled: The nutritional value of edible mushroom) and is now in review.
    Lukas Beule, Visit Scholar (Sep 2017-Nov 2017) Lukas is currently the PhD student at the University of Goettingen (Germany). He is a soil scientist specialized on microbial ecology, functional genes involved in nitrogen cycling and soil greenhouse gas fluxes. His recent research focused on alterations of fungal communities under forest pest outbreaks as well as the linkage between soil greenhouse gas fluxes and soil microorganisms. If he is not in the lab, you usually find him on a skateboard or taking pictures. His visit was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and involved him in our lab projects to receive training at NGS technology. During his stay, he led the lab project entitled "Links between bahiagrass cultivars and below ground microbial communities". Please find his web and researchgate to learn more about his personal and professional interests.
    Florencia Marcon
    Fulbright scholar (May 2017-Aug 2017)
    Florencia is currently the Ph.D student working with Dr. Carlos Acuna at National Scientific and Technical Research Council-Botanical Institute of the Northeast in Argentina. Her major is Agronomy and her PhD program focuses on: Study the occurrence of heterosis in tetraploid bahiagrass hybrids, its prediction and breeding techniques. She is very interested in studying grass breeding and grass-fungal endophyte interaction. During her visit, she led the field sample collections for different local grass species across several regional scale of geographic distances. Using culture-based, NGS tools and mycotoxin analysis, she seeks to identify the key endophytes that are capable of producing mycotoxin.