Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Jeanne Harris

Project Collaborators

Stephen Keller (collaborating mentor), Alison Brody (collaborating mentor), Jeanne Harris (Primary Faculty mentor)

Secondary Mentor NetID

Abrody,Skeller

Secondary Mentor Name

Alison Brody, Stephen Keller

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Program/Major

Plant Biology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

Presentation Title

MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION OF FUNGAL SPECIES IN BLUEBERRY ROOTS

Time

3:00 PM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Social Sciences

Abstract

Vaccinium corymbosum (the northern highbush blueberry) belongs to the Ericaceae family which is known to grow in acidic and infertile soils. These infertile soils have high content of polyphenolic compounds, which slowly decompose soil organic matter, thus the ability of ericaceous plants to perform better in soils with low pH, high organic matter and phenolic contents is due to mycorrhizal association with fungi. Mycorrhizae are symbiotic associations between fungi and plants. The fungus colonizes the root system of the host plant, providing increased water and nutrients while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis. Recent studies have shown that at the phylum level, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota dominate the taxonomic group of fungi, yet in blueberry roots the exact composition of the fungal community is poorly understood. Using the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, which functions as a fungal barcoding region, we will identify what fungal species are present in the blueberry roots. The ITS region includes the ITS1 and ITS2 region separated by the 5.8S gene and is situated between the 18S (SSU) and 28S (LSU) genes. The region will be amplified using specific ITS primers and the amplicons sequenced with an Illumina MiSeq system. We expect to have single end read lengths of up to 300 bases which will be analyzed by an automated bioinformatics pipeline that classifies ITS sequences (PIPITS). The data output will enumerate the diversity of fungal species present in the blueberry roots and may help us to understand the way in which belowground interactions affect above ground interactions.

Keywords: Blueberry roots, Ericaceae, Fungi, ITS, root microbiome, mycorrhizae.

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MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION OF FUNGAL SPECIES IN BLUEBERRY ROOTS

Vaccinium corymbosum (the northern highbush blueberry) belongs to the Ericaceae family which is known to grow in acidic and infertile soils. These infertile soils have high content of polyphenolic compounds, which slowly decompose soil organic matter, thus the ability of ericaceous plants to perform better in soils with low pH, high organic matter and phenolic contents is due to mycorrhizal association with fungi. Mycorrhizae are symbiotic associations between fungi and plants. The fungus colonizes the root system of the host plant, providing increased water and nutrients while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis. Recent studies have shown that at the phylum level, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota dominate the taxonomic group of fungi, yet in blueberry roots the exact composition of the fungal community is poorly understood. Using the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, which functions as a fungal barcoding region, we will identify what fungal species are present in the blueberry roots. The ITS region includes the ITS1 and ITS2 region separated by the 5.8S gene and is situated between the 18S (SSU) and 28S (LSU) genes. The region will be amplified using specific ITS primers and the amplicons sequenced with an Illumina MiSeq system. We expect to have single end read lengths of up to 300 bases which will be analyzed by an automated bioinformatics pipeline that classifies ITS sequences (PIPITS). The data output will enumerate the diversity of fungal species present in the blueberry roots and may help us to understand the way in which belowground interactions affect above ground interactions.

Keywords: Blueberry roots, Ericaceae, Fungi, ITS, root microbiome, mycorrhizae.