Exploring biocrust-associated soil fungi and their role in mediating plant growth, phenology, and sexual reproduction
- Student Recipient: Allister Carter, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Faculty Mentor: Nichole Barger
- Grant Information: 2017 Summer, Individual Grant
- Project Description: Interspecific interactions, specifically those between plants and soil microbes, are critical to the functionality of ecosystems (Garcia-Palacios et al., 2015)). These interactions may mediate plant community responses to abiotic stressors like climate change (Fridley et al., 2011)). Understanding plant-soil interactions is important to understanding the stability and resilience a given ecosystem has to climate change. In dryland ecosystems, biological soil crusts (biocrusts), soil microbial assemblages of cyanobacteria, mosses, lichens, and fungi, increase availability of plant-limiting resources, and influence plant establishment and growth (Belnap et al. 2016). However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying biocrust provision of resources to plants.