News & Events

Grad student talk: Spatial and temporal dynamics of plant-fungal interactions

Thursday, April 05, 2018, 12:30PM - 1:30PM


Cliff Bueno de Mesquita


SEEC room S225

It is increasingly recognized that associations with fungi are important for plant growth, survival, and reproduction. Plants are involved in mutualisms with fungi that inhabit their roots, trading sugars to the fungi in exchange for nutrients and water. Over the past few years, surveys of hundreds of individual plants from the alpine tundra at Niwot Ridge have shown that two fungal groups, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and dark septate endophytes (DSE), are abundant in this ecosystem, and have interesting spatial and temporal patterns in their abundance. Our results show that AMF likely help with phosphorus and nitrogen uptake, while DSE are involved in nitrogen cycling. Interestingly, AMF decline at the highest elevation, sparsely vegetated plant communities, while DSE do not. Both fungal groups are less abundant in late-melting snowbeds. Over the course of the growing season, AMF show fluctuations in their abundances, with peaks associated with plant seed production, while DSE remain at similar levels throughout the season. These patterns help us understand the dynamic nature of plant-fungal interactions, as well as the function of these different fungal groups.