Mariah Sophia Kidd

Mariah Sophia Kidd

  • M.S Student
  • Advised by: Dr. Paul Esker
211 Buckhout Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Nematology with emphasis on soybean cyst nematodes


  • B.S Environmental Science at North Carolina State University
  • B.S Plant Biology at North Carolina State University

Research Interest

The agroecosystem is the larges terrestrial ecosystem in our environment, but, little is known about the microorganisms that inhabit it and how they interact with one another. My project will transform the way we understand the interactions of plant associated nematodes within the soil microbriome in addition to the impacts they have on soil health. Soil health being the continuous capacity for the soil to function as a living ecosystem able to sustain plants and animals. Certain nematode species improve soil health by aiding in ecosystem services such as increasing the rates of nutrient cycling. Microbial interactions with these nematodes could lead to shifts in soil health. For instance, nematode population levels and community structure could indicate if adiquite nutrient cycling is occurring. Additionally, because nematode populations are sensitive to changes in soil moisture and temperature, their population levels will reflect changes in soil environments. Therefore, making them effective indicators for soil health. Plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs) are spreading across the Northeastern United States as suitable habitats increase due to climate change. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how nematodes interact with other microbes and contribute to soil health. Pennsylvania is experiencing PPN population increases at an unpredictable rate and distribution. Thus, it provides an effective site to observe these impacts. My project will investigate the interplays between PPNs and other microbes with the aim of being able to analyze future soil ecosystem equilibrium. The data collected from my research could indicate that PPNs or other nematodes can be used to determine general soil health and long-term agricultural sustainability