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As climate changes, resource availability has the potential to influence plant-fungal symbiotic interactions. To understand how resource availability can influence these interactions, this research focuses specifically on how varying nitrogen levels affects root fungal endophyte communities found in American Beachgrass and Little Bluestem species of dune grasses. Fungal endophytes are intercellular symbionts living throughout the tissue of host plants and can be anywhere on the mutualistic to parasitic continuum. Previous research found in the literature focused on the effect nitrogen deposition has on plant species richness and determined that increased nitrogen led to a loss in species diversity. Using this previous data as a guide, it can be hypothesized that increased nitrogen will lead to decreased species diversity of the root fungal endophytes in both American Beachgrass and Little Bluestem species. Plants of both grass species were collected from plots containing different nitrogen levels at a long term resource addition field experiment located on the Great Lakes dunes. Roots from the plants were plated in media, and fungal communities emerged. Each morphospecies was isolated and sorted into 138 different morphotype characterizations. This preliminary data indicates a lot of species diversity in the root fungal endophytes and differentiation of species richness by abiotic treatment. By looking at the ways varying nitrogen levels can affect species diversity of fungi, this research can contribute to larger discussion of global change and its effect on species diversity.
Payne, Hillary K and Sage, Haley E., "Root Endophyte Community Response to Increased Resource Availability" (2021). Undergraduate Arts and Research Showcase. 41.