2014 Scholar: Kennedy Aldrich
Characterizing the Symbiotic Relationships between Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and the Roots of Fruit Trees
Most plant species have a symbiotic relationship between fungi and their roots called an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) association. The plant receives mineral nutrients from the fungus while the fungus gets sugars from the plant. AM associations benefit plants by increasing drought tolerance, pest resistance, increasing plant growth, and improving soil structure. This research characterized the AM associations in the roots of ten fruit trees found at GVSU’s Sustainable Agriculture Program. Standard molecular techniques were used to sequence fungal DNA from fruit tree root samples. Morphological analyses were carried out on a subset of root sample to characterize the AM associations. Fungal sequences were analyzed to characterize the fungal diversity between and within the trees. Future analyses will incorporate plant and soil nutrient data with the diversity data, which may lead to the development of an AM fungal inoculum designed to benefit plant growth.
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Winther, Biology