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Ryan Williams

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Trait Biology Analytics Lead, Genomics and Data Science, Bayer
PhD, 2014 Iowa State University

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Additional: Google-Scholar
Headshot of Ryan Williams


Research summary

Applying microbial ecology and metagenomics to biotechnology and agricultural sustainability

Research description

Microorganisms harbor a wide range of traits that allow them to thrive and fill a diversity of niches across the planet’s biosphere. Continued innovation in sequencing technology has enabled us to sample microbiomes in the environment and those associated with higher organisms with unprecedented speed and depth. Despite access to copious amounts of data describing the genomes of microorganisms, little is known about their true function in the environment. Further, analyzing these datasets in a scale-able and meaningful way is challenging. Through my work, I determine the function of microbes and genes sampled through metagenomics to learn about organism-microbiome relationships and environmental microbiomes. I combine these data and data science methodologies to discover novel traits for biotechnological applications that will improve agricultural sustainability.

Select Publications

Select Publications

Bach, E.M., Williams, R.J., Hargreaves, S.K., Yang, F., Hofmockel, K.S. Greatest soil microbial diversity found in micro-habitats (2018) Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 118, pp. 217-226.

Choi, J., Yang, F., Stepanauskas, R., Cardenas, E., Garoutte, A., Williams, R., Flater, J., Tiedje, J.M., Hofmockel, K.S., Gelder, B., Howe, A. Strategies to improve reference databases for soil microbiomes (2017) ISME Journal, 11 (4), pp. 829-834.

Howe, A., Yang, F., Williams, R.J., Meyer, F., Hofmockel, K.S. Identification of the core set of carbon-associated genes in a bioenergy grassland soil (2016) PLoS ONE, 11 (11), art. no. e0166578.

Harpole, W.S., et al. Addition of multiple limiting resources reduces grassland diversity (2016) Nature, 537 (7618), pp. 93-96.

Choi, J., Yang, F., Stepanauskas, R., Cardenas, E., Garoutte, A., Williams, R. J., Flater, J., Tiedje, J.M., Hofmockel, K.S., Gelder, B., Howe, A. RefSoil: A reference database of soil microbial genomes (2016) bioRxiv, 053397.

Howe, A., Ringus, D.L., Williams, R.J., Choo, Z.-N., Greenwald, S.M., Owens, S.M., Coleman, M.L., Meyer, F., Chang, E.B. Divergent responses of viral and bacterial communities in the gut microbiome to dietary disturbances in mice (2016) ISME Journal, 10 (5), pp. 1217-1227.

Hargreaves, S.K., Williams, R.J., Hofmockel, K.S. Environmental filtering of microbial communities in agricultural soil shifts with crop growth (2015) PLoS ONE, 10 (7), art. no. e0134345.

Prober, S.M., et al.. Plant diversity predicts beta but not alpha diversity of soil microbes across grasslands worldwide (2015) Ecology Letters, 18 (1), pp. 85-95.

Williams, R.J., Howe, A., Hofmockel, K.S. Demonstrating microbial co-occurrence pattern analyses within and between ecosystems (2014) Frontiers in Microbiology, 5 (JULY), art. no. 358.

Borer, E.T., et al. Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation (2014) Nature, 508 (7497), pp. 517-520.

Williams, R.J., Hallgren, S.W., Wilson, G.W.T., Palmer, M.W. Juniperus virginiana encroachment into upland oak forests alters arbuscular mycorrhizal abundance and litter chemistry (2013) Applied Soil Ecology, 65, pp. 23-30.

Williams, R.J., Hallgren, S.W., Wilson, G.W.T. Frequency of prescribed burning in an upland oak forest determines soil and litter properties and alters the soil microbial community (2012) Forest Ecology and Management, 265, pp. 241-247.

Burrell, A.M., Taylor, K.G., Williams, R.J., Cantrell, R.T., Menz, M.A., Pepper, A.E. A comparative genomic map for Caulanthus amplexicaulis and related species (Brassicaceae) (2011) Molecular Ecology 20 (4), pp. 784-798