Master of Environmental Studies

MES Thesis Presentation Schedule

The public is welcome to attend any MES thesis presentation.

Dates and times are subject to change.

Fall 2014 thesis presentations
Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 5pm
Lecture Hall 3

5pm-5:15pm - Sasha Porter, Mycorrhizal and microbial inoculation affect the growth and survival of native plants raised for restoration. Reader: Erin Martin

ABSTRACT

Production of native seedlings for field outplanting has become a common ecological restoration technique worldwide. However, the establishment of greenhouse-raised plants in the field is usually poor. Mycorrhizal fungi are symbionts that can provide survival benefits to host plants. This relationship is ubiquitous in terrestrial ecosystems and mycorrhizae are absent only under unusual circumstances, such as in a nursery greenhouse.

In this large-scale study nine Northwest short-grass prairie species were grown for six months in sterilized medium with an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) inoculant cultured from local native plants, a general AMF inoculant, or in control treatments. Three microbial washes with AMF removed, created from a nearby site considered to be high-quality remnant prairie, a restoration site, and unsterilized potting medium, were added within each AMF treatment in a fully factorial design. Seedling emergence, survival, aboveground growth, biomass, and AMF colonization data were collected.

AMF significantly enhanced the growth of five species and the survival of four, with no detectable effect on the remainder. Further, there was no significant difference between the two AMF inoculants. Field microbial wash tended to have a negative effect on seedling emergence and growth, with the high-quality site treatment most repressive. AMF and the introduced microrganisms interacted on Festuca roemeri, with AMF mediating the negative effect of other fungi. Surprisingly, AMF positively affected Castilleja levisecta, a hemiparasite, and altered the phenology of Dodecatheon hendersonii, delaying dormancy. Results suggest that AMF can enhance the growth and survivorship of many species, and that inoculation may lead to greater success in ecosystem restoration efforts.