Title

Plants and Fungi Unite: A Significant Symbiosis

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Purpose: The abundance of fungal diversity in the Flathead Valley provides an excellent opportunity to observe and collect many different species of mushrooms, some of which form mutualistic associations with plants. The objective of this research was to collect and identify wild fungi that demonstrate mycorrhizal associations with plants, and to prepare and store specimens to allow for future laboratory studies.

Methods: Specimens were collected predominantly in coniferous forests of the Flathead Valley from mid-October to mid-November. Fungal samples were photographed, and details regarding their location and habitat were documented. Spore prints were made by placing severed caps, gill-side down, on a piece of construction paper and left overnight to dehisce. Spores and dried mushrooms were stored for future use. Fungal specimens with mycorrhizal associations were researched from referenced texts.

Originality: Mycorrhizal fungi have been examined and studied to a very large extent in recent years. However, the immense diversity of fungi necessitates research on a local level. This project aimed to focus on a small area of the Flathead Valley to provide practical information that can be used to broaden our understanding of this extensive subject.

Significance: The benefits of mycorrhiza for both plants and fungi are immense, and could prove to be useful in many capacities. With a better understanding of how this process works, mycorrhizal fungi could be used to greatly improve growth of agricultural plants, provide a natural and sustainable fertilizer, as well as increase our understanding of forest ecology.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 11th, 3:00 PM Apr 11th, 4:00 PM

Plants and Fungi Unite: A Significant Symbiosis

Purpose: The abundance of fungal diversity in the Flathead Valley provides an excellent opportunity to observe and collect many different species of mushrooms, some of which form mutualistic associations with plants. The objective of this research was to collect and identify wild fungi that demonstrate mycorrhizal associations with plants, and to prepare and store specimens to allow for future laboratory studies.

Methods: Specimens were collected predominantly in coniferous forests of the Flathead Valley from mid-October to mid-November. Fungal samples were photographed, and details regarding their location and habitat were documented. Spore prints were made by placing severed caps, gill-side down, on a piece of construction paper and left overnight to dehisce. Spores and dried mushrooms were stored for future use. Fungal specimens with mycorrhizal associations were researched from referenced texts.

Originality: Mycorrhizal fungi have been examined and studied to a very large extent in recent years. However, the immense diversity of fungi necessitates research on a local level. This project aimed to focus on a small area of the Flathead Valley to provide practical information that can be used to broaden our understanding of this extensive subject.

Significance: The benefits of mycorrhiza for both plants and fungi are immense, and could prove to be useful in many capacities. With a better understanding of how this process works, mycorrhizal fungi could be used to greatly improve growth of agricultural plants, provide a natural and sustainable fertilizer, as well as increase our understanding of forest ecology.