Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Symposium 2020 has ended
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Brianna Almeida

Understanding What Structures Fungal Soil Communities Across Tree Islands
Poster Presenter #8
Ph.D. in Biology
One of the largest challenges of the 21st century is restoring habitats that have been damaged by anthropogenic change. A promising avenue for improving restoration is the inclusion of microbiomes in management plans but little is known about the composition of these microbiomes and what determines them. Using the imperiled Everglades tree islands, which have declined by up to 54% in some areas, we determined the relationship between soil fungal and plant community composition. We were also able to determine the relationship between these communities and abiotic parameters. We sequenced soil fungal communities from 96 sites across eight tree islands to determine which environmental variables explain variation in fungal community diversity and structure. Our results show that canopy openness, tree density, and elevation (a proxy for hydrology), were major drivers of fungal composition, but only elevation and understory plant evenness explained variation in fungal diversity. Elevation, predicted plant biomass, and fungal evenness explained variation in plant composition. This study highlights the relationship between fungal composition, and abiotic and plant community traits, which is important for the implementation of microbiomes in restoration.

Additional author(s): Mike Ross, Susana Stoffella, Jay P. Sah, Michelle Afkhami