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Ylva Lekberg exposes the fascinating world of soil ecology.

Did you know that up to 16,000 invertebrates support your feet when you take a step in a mature forest? Did you know that the smell of soil is due to actinomycetes? One cup of forest soil can hold as many bacteria as there are people on Earth and hundreds of miles of fungal hyphae. Come learn more about the functions and interactions of the creatures that inhabit our soils this Wednesday (February 27th) at 7 pm at the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula. Ylva will discuss indicators of healthy soil ecosystems, the ways to maintain them, and the beauty of ectomycorrhizal fungi from her backyard!

Ectomycorrhizal fungi colonize a small pine seedling

Above: Ectomycorrhizal fungi colonize a small pine seedling. The plant gives carbon to the fungus and receives nutrients in return. The white hyphal tissue shows the increased surface uptake area provided by the fungus. Fungi form symbioses with about 90% of all plants, including many garden plants like tomatoes, onions and corn. Photo credit: Aberdeen Mycorrhiza Research Group

About the Author

Ylva Lekberg

Ylva graduated from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with a M.Sc. in Biology and Horticulture in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Penn State University in 2004. She received the Alumni Association Dissertation Award for her work in agroecology and subsistence farming in Sub-Saharan Africa. Post-doctoral positions at Montana State University and later at Copenhagen University as a Marie Curie Fellow have allowed her to explore the role of mycorrhiza, a root-fungus symbiosis, for geothermal plants in Yellowstone National Park and coastal grasslands in Denmark. Her research has been published in journals such as Ecology, Journal of Ecology and New Phytologist.

Ylva currently works at MPG Ranch as a soil ecologist. She explores the role of mycorrhiza in the success of exotic plants and examines the use of specific pathogens to combat invasions. In her spare time Ylva mountain-bikes, plays soccer, and maintains a large vegetable garden.