Abstract: Associations Between Mycorrhizal Fungi and the American Chestnut Tree

Hello Everyone!

My name is Rachel Reeb. I am a rising sophomore at the college, and an intended biology/ environmental science double major. This will be my first summer conducting research for the college, and I am incredibly excited to get underway! I will be doing research in Harmony Dalgleish’s plant ecology lab, and am studying how mycorrhizae originating from various plant communities affect the biomass of chestnut seedlings during their first few months of growth, and how the presence of competing plant species effect mycorrhizal colonization and biomass in chestnuts during growth.

The American Chestnut Tree, native to the eastern woodlands of the United States, is partially reliant on its relationship with mycorrhizal fungi for survival. Both organisms benefit from a symbiotic relationship with each other, with mycorrhizae populating on the roots of chestnut trees and other vascular plant species.Mycorrhizae are particularly important for the development of seedlings in their first year of growth, leading to a greater biomass and chance of survival. High mycorrhizae populations in tree roots are correlated with increased tree health and can be considered a factor in measuring the relative competitiveness of vascular plants within an ecosystem.

My summer research aims to quantify mycorrhizal colonization on the roots of American chestnut seedlings in competition with different species and sources of mycorrhizae, specifically red oak and tulip poplar. I will also be studying the relationship between the number/diversity of different mycorrhizae types and seedling success during its first year of development. I hope that this study will generate a better understanding of how effectively the American chestnut tree is able to compete and survive in today’s natural forest ecosystem.

Check back often for updates in the greenhouse!