MMS Meeting

MMS Meeting

June 12, 2023 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Recipients of this year’s MMS Graduate Student Scholarship will present on their studies related to mycology.

Speaker 1: Dyonishia Nieves

Effects of experimental warming and reduced rainfall on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities at the temperate-boreal ecotone

Increasing temperatures and shifting rainfall regimes will alter the composition and function of forests at the temperate-boreal ecotone, and tree responses to these climate change stressors will be influenced by their root symbionts, ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. ECM fungi partner with trees and are essential for nutrient acquisition as well as improving access to water and providing protection from root pathogens. Despite extensive and growing knowledge of how trees respond to various global changes such as warming and reduced rainfall, few studies have investigated the effects of combined warming and reduced rainfall on their root ECM fungal communities. Given the significant roles ECM fungi play in tree growth, and soil nutrient and carbon cycling, changes in the composition and function of ECM fungal communities could result in altered above and below-ground forest carbon storage. My research investigates how warming, reduced rainfall, and their combination affect the composition, mycelium production, and function (e.g., decomposition activity) of temperate-boreal ecotonal ECM fungal communities.

Dyonishia (Nishia) graduated from Princeton University in 2017 where she studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. After college, she worked for two years at the non-profit Climate Central, where she was primarily engaged in outreach, including in-person presentations to planners, environmental groups, and other stakeholders involved in climate resiliency work. She joined the University of Minnesota in 2020, and is currently a third year PhD candidate working with Dr. Peter Kennedy and Dr. Peter Reich.

Speaker 2: Aiym Bakytbaikyzy

Competitive Success of Fomitopsis betulina as a Wood-degrading Fungus

Eighty percent of Earth’s aboveground biomass carbon is stored in wood, so understanding how fungi decay wood will enhance biomass loss and carbon accounting models. Brown rot wood-decaying fungi have a chemical and biological nutritional mode that is distinct from those of white rots. The former selectively degrade carbohydrates and leave most of the lignin intact, while the latter generate oxidized residues that have little lignin left. Studying the competition between wood-decaying fungi with different nutritional modes is important because their early assembly history (fungal community composition and advancement) has a large effect on the rate of decomposition and the fate of carbon in the soil. The goal of my project is to understand under what conditions a brown rot fungus F. betulina succeeds in dominating birch. The findings of this study will help us predict outcomes for brown rot and subsequently, the fate of carbon in wood.

Aiym is from Almaty, Kazakhstan and graduated from Macalester College in May 2022. At Macalester, she majored in Biology and Philosophy, and minored in German Studies. She joined the department of Plant & Microbial Biology at the University of Minnesota as PhD student in Fall 2022. She works in Jonathan Schilling’s lab studying wood-degrading fungi, and is interested in both the ecological implications and the industrial applications of fungal wood-decaying mechanisms. Her other passions are Philosophy and German Studies.

Club business & announcements: TBA.

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