Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Biochemistry (not Cell and Molecular Biology and Genetics)
Elizabeth Diaz - University of California of Davis
Co-Author(s): Carolyn A Zeiner, Boston University, Boston MA ; Reagan N. Brandy, Boston University, Boston MA ; Jennifer M. Talbot, Boston University, Boston MA
Soil dwelling microorganisms, specifically fungi, are the engines of the decomposition process that maintain ecological systems by breaking down organic matter into simpler nutrients that cannot be naturally found or created anywhere else. Fungi usually live in communities of numbers in the hundreds in which extra cellular activity is the basis of their livelihood. A classical paradigm of decomposition follows the succession of certain species dominating within the three stages of carbon degradation. However, there are few studies on how they assemble their communities and what role they play within them. Therefore the mechanisms of decomposition of litter is poorly understood. This experiment uses quantitative approaches to analyze growth rates of fungi, metabolic extractions ,and colorimetric tests of reactive oxygen species to describe behavior of dominant and rare species within a microcosm. Three dominant and rare species from each stage of decomposition were inoculated in one plate and were able to grow over a four-week time course. Our findings suggest that we were not able to recreate an environment where dominant species are the most successful growers. However, when analyzing the data we found that (ROS), along with evidence of other methods of combat, indicate that dominance will be achieved over time. Metabolic data was used confirm that the amount of antimicrobial compounds produced was dependent on the decay stage. This work demonstrates the role of redox processes in the complex mechanisms of fungal community assembly during decomposition.Not Submitted
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Talbot Lab, Norman Lee (CIC Boston) NSF-REU CHE- 1156666
Faculty Advisor: Carolyn Zeiner, email@example.com
Role: I conducted this research this project with the close mentorship of all the individuals I listed above. I produced the media, set up the microcosms for the fungi for each stage. I recorded all scientific observations and analyzed the data. I created the poster and presented it myself at the REU NSF undergraduate convention on August 10th 2017.