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Microbes focus of Science on Tap with Sanna Sevanto

Join us Monday, Sept. 21, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
August 28, 2020
Sanna Sevanto shares surprises she encountered during attempts to harness microbes to improve plant drought tolerance.

Sanna Sevanto shares surprises she encountered during attempts to harness microbes to improve plant drought tolerance.


  • Stacy Baker
  • (505) 664-0244
  • Email
All ages are welcome!


Science on Tap is back! Please join Sanna Sevanto of the Lab's Earth System Observations group on Monday, Sept. 21, for a lively (yet virtual) conversation about microbes: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Microbes can have a large influence on the well-being of their hosts. Pathogenic microbes can be completely detrimental, while probiotics can significantly improve host well-being.

The industry of human probiotics is growing fast, and with the need for improved agricultural productivity, development of probiotics for plants is also increasing. Plant growth and stress tolerance, however, are controlled by some fundamental trade-offs that make improving plant stress tolerance using probiotics challenging.

In this talk, Sanna will discuss how plant stress responses can be affected by their microbial associates. She'll also share surprises she encountered while attempting to harness microbes to improve plant drought tolerance.

To join us for our first virtual Science on Tap, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21, please register here on Webex.

About Sanna Sevanto

Sanna is a physicist-turned-plant physiologist with broad expertise in transport phenomena in complex natural systems. She has a master’s degree in material science and a doctorate in applied physics from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her interests in biomechanics and the environment have led her to apply the knowledge of physics to studying plant physiology and plant responses to environmental stress.

Before beginning her career at LANL in 2009, Sanna spent three years studying plants at Harvard University and teaching atmospheric thermodynamics and fluid mechanics at the University of Helsinki. Her research has focused on measurements and modeling of plant-atmosphere interactions, ecosystem energy, water and carbon cycles, plant hydraulics, plant responses to stress, as well as mechanistic understanding of plant structure and function.

Sanna has collaborated with researchers from various disciplines ranging from applied and theoretical physics and global-scale vegetation modeling, to cellular and ecosystem-scale biology, ecology, meteorology, atmospheric sciences and material sciences, applying techniques from these fields for understanding plant function and vegetation influence on climate. These techniques include neutron radiography of water flow in plants and plant-root systems, soft-tissue x-ray tomography for studying plant anatomy, ultra-low field NMR for measuring plant drought responses, and linear displacement transducers for measuring pressure changes in plant tissues.


Science on Tap is a convivial opportunity to engage with Lab scientists on their current projects. A brief presentation is followed by lively questions, answers and discussion. The fun takes place on the third Monday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. virtually — and eventually at local watering holes in Los Alamos and White Rock. Bradbury Science Museum Association members receive $1 off any drink or food items purchased during Science on Tap.

The sessions are a joint project between the Bradbury Science Museum and the Los Alamos Creative District.