Dr. Kate Reardon

Kate Reardon, Ph.D.
Research Microbiologist

USDA Agricultural Research Service

Office: 541‐278‐4392
Located at the Pendleton Station

Growing up on a small farm in southern Idaho, my favorite summertime activities were making mud pies, baking cookies, digging snow tunnels through the ditches, and getting lost in the corn field. I ventured off to Idaho State University (Pocatello) for a bachelor’s degree in microbiology with emphasis in medical technology then followed through to Montana State University (Bozeman) for a Ph.D. in microbiology focused on microbial ecology. I moved westward to Kennewick WA as a post doc at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where I studied the mechanisms in which bacteria respire (or breathe) soluble and solid-phase metals.

It wasn’t until I joined the USDA-Agricultural Research Service at the Tree Fruit Research Lab in Wenatchee WA in 2009 that I found a passion for the complexity of soil microbial communities. Up until that moment, my research had focused solely on the ecology and function of bacteria, excluding the world of fungi, archaea, protists, and nematodes.  My first project with the USDA evaluated the dynamic roles of these soil organisms in nitrogen cycling and required several hours counting live wriggling nematodes under a microscope (imagine a bag full of writhing baby snakes). In 2010, I found a home at the USDA-ARS Pendleton station as a research scientist. My overarching career goal is to determine how the way we farm impacts the soil microbes so we can farm to promote beneficial soil microbial communities.  The Microbiology Program is focused on both the response of the soil microbial community composition (who is there and how many) and function (e.g. nutrient cycling, aggregation, organic matter breakdown) to crop management, drought, and perturbation including global change.



Kate’s team:

Amanda Galvin

Amanda Galvin
Microbiology Technician

Cheyenne Camera 2023 Cropped

Cheyenne Camara
Microbiology Technician

Katherine Son

Katherine Son
Chemistry Technician

Kate’s Research:

  • Determine how fertilizer rate and wheat cultivar selection impact the capacity of the soil to supply and cycle nitrogen.
  • Identify whether soil microbial communities respond similarly to management practices (fertilizer/cultivar) regardless of the amount of annual precipitation.
  • Evaluate the effects of dryland oilseed cropping on the activity, abundance and diversity of the microbes that drive nitrification.
  • As part of the Resilient Dryland Farming Alliance (RDFA), collaboratively studying the short-term impacts of cover cropping on the wheat-soil microbiome.
  • Jointly with Christina Hagerty and Faye Smith, establishing genetic fingerprints for fungicide resistance in Zymoseptoria tritici, the causal pathogen of Septoria Tritici Blotch.

Kate’s Scientific Roles:

  • Project lead of the USDA-ARS National Program 216 – Sustainable Agriculture Systems.
  • USDA-ARS lead of the Resilient Dryland Farming Alliance (RDFA). The RDFA is pressing the current boundaries of yield, sustainability, & resilience in dryland cropping systems. Currently, we are evaluating the intensification (cover cropping) and diversification (alternative crops) of the wheat-fallow system to reduce input costs, maximize yield, increase grain quality, and capitalize on emerging markets.
  • Coordinator of the USDA-ARS Soil Biology Groupx, a team of 11 ARS scientists nationwide focused on soil health, the response and role of the ag microbiome in global change resilience and resistance, and the development of soil biology metrics. You can learn more about SBGx and the larger USDA-ARS Soil Biology Group community here: https://usdaars.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=1dc881aff545433eaef1d4c1ca792b86

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