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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2006

  • Title: Investigating the Interactions between Garlic Mustard and Ectomycorrhizal Fungi
  • Author: ()
  • Abstract:

    Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive plant commonly found in forest understories in North America. Previous research has shown that GM inhibits arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, root symbionts of herbaceous plants and some trees. In this study, we examine the interactions between ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM), symbionts of conifers and other trees, and GM in the field and greenhouse. In the field, soil cores were taken from three different forests in areas with and without GM. At two of the forests, there was significantly lower ECM root tip biomass found in cores taken from areas with GM. Soils cores were also taken in and around GM patches to observe differences in root tip abundance with different GM densities, and we are currently analyzing these cores. To determine if GM affects ECM root tip establishment on tree seedlings, we experimentally invaded soils with GM, the native herb Impatiens capensis, as well as with no plant in the greenhouse. Pine (Pinus strobus) seedlings were planted in the soils and root tips from the seedlings will be counted in several months. To compare GM with native mustards, a pine seedling and either Arabis canadensis, GM, or nothing will be grown in clear chambers to view the interactions between the mustard and the ECM. In the laboratory, the effects of root exudates of GM and native mustards will be assessed by growing fungi on different agars containing exudates from different mustards. Our preliminary results show that GM may inhibit the abundance of ECM, but the strength and implications of these effects are currently unknown. These experiments are beginning to elucidate the impacts of GM on ECM and may aid to understand the broader impacts of GM on forest ecosystems.

  • Research Category: Invasive Plants, Pests & Pathogens