Diversity Analysis of Soil Fungus Communities in Disturbed, Nursery, and Mature Forest Conditions

Student: Dana Whitmore (School of Graduate Studies)

Mentor: Jim Johnson


Success of revegetation efforts is often limited by poor soil quality. The Forest Service and WS-DOT will face this reality when they introduce plants to the I-90 wildlife overpass. One proposed solution is to inoculate the bridge with native soil plugs to restore microbial communities. Establishment of diverse soil fungi communities will have great positive impact on soil quality and increase survivorship of introduced plants. This study will provide an analysis of community structure and diversity of fungi in the soils on the bridge, in the nursery soils where the plants are being primed for transplantation, and at a possible site for native soil plug collection. Future studies of the crossing structure will use this project as a baseline. A total of 121 soil cores have been gathered from the four sites, and fungal DNA was extracted from each core. After sequence data are returned from MrDNA labs, the sequences will be designated to operational taxonomic units. OTUs will then be sorted according to mycorrhizal or saprophytic lifestyle and examined for overlap between the sites. Diversity indices will be calculated from species richness and evenness. Reduced diversity and saprophyte-dominant communities are expected in soils on the crossing structure due to intense disturbance. The nurseries are anticipated to have moderate diversity indices as a result of constant low-level disturbance and known prevalence of particular species. Soils surrounding Swamp Lake are characterized by numerous hosts and low disturbance, so are predicted to contain diverse fungal communities of late succession species.


5 thoughts on “Diversity Analysis of Soil Fungus Communities in Disturbed, Nursery, and Mature Forest Conditions”

  1. Nice job explaining your project – you developed a nice story line, in terms for a broad audience. The talk was a little fast, but great voice inflection (shows your excitement). A couple of suggestions for your data figures: 1)keep the order of the samples the same and in an order that makes sense from either predictions of which would be highest vs lowest, or the actual patterns seen, 2) change the labels so they are easy to remember for someone not familiar with your project (e.g., “DCN” doesn’t mean anything to me, but “Nurs. 1” or “WA Nursery” would help me remember what’s what). Important conclusions about bridge community. How quickly do you think that would get more diverse (with mycorrhizae) if left to its own succession vs by adding soil plugs?

  2. Hi Dana. Thanks. You did a very nice overview of fungi and their role in a forest community. I also thought you did a good job of explaining your results. You did a lot in 10 minutes! I wonder how much of the difficulty in revegetation efforts is due to lack of water versus poor soil quality. Did you find anything in the literature about that? It was nice to hear you present your poster, I look forward to hearing more about your project in the future — good luck in finishing up your degree.

  3. Hi Dana,
    You did an excellent job on the presentation, organize content, and easy to follow. My question is that plants grow in areas that are without Mycorrhizae, would they still going to grow normally or slow the process of growing?

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