Last week, Alexii Cornell, Natasha Boote and I attended the 99th Annual Ecological Society of America Conference in Sacramento, California. This year, more than 3000 people attended the conference, themed "From Oceans to Mountains: It's all Ecology." I saw many presentations on endophyte ecology. Some highlights included studies on the relationship between endophytic fungi and their bacterial symbionts (abstract), the influence of plant root associated fungi on plant diversity (abstract), and the diversity and structure of endophyte communities in coastal conifers (abstract).
Alexii Cornell (image below) presented her research with Ylva Lekberg and collaborators on the direct and indirect effects of herbicides on soil biota. Their study suggested that different soil microbial groups, i.e. bacteria, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and other fungi, differ in their responses to herbicides and that these differences should be taken into consideration in order to increase restoration success.
I presented research on the use of next generation sequencing technology to explore endophyte community assemblage in western white pines (image below). In this study, we successfully inoculated white pine seedlings with fungal endophytes. We then used direct DNA amplification and Illumina sequencing to investigate community assemblage and co-occurrence patterns of endophytic species.
(Photo by Alexii Cornell)
Natasha Boote (pictured below) presented the results of a collaboration between Ylva Lekberg, the US Forest Service and Adnan Menderes University in Turkey. Natasha's poster discussed whether successful invaders in Montana grow larger and produce more seeds compared to their native Turkish counterparts.
Lorinda Bullington comes from three generations of small-scale Montana loggers, or as her grandfather put it, "the first environmentalists.” Not wanting to leave this beautiful state, Lorinda attended the University of Montana, earning a B.S. in Microbiology in 2010. Family traditions inspired a love of forests and nature, and during her junior year of college, Lorinda began working at MPG North, studying microbial communities associated with Western white pine trees and how those microbes can influence tree health and deer browse in forest ecosystems.
After college, Lorinda continued this line of research, working full time at MPG Ranch. She experimentally inoculated plants with microbes, in the field, and in the greenhouse, to enhance ongoing restoration projects and learn more about plant-microbe interactions. This lead to follow up studies exploring microbial communities associated with five-needle pines in relation to tree physiology, genetics, and disease resistance. Through this research, Lorinda recently earned an M.I.S. degree at the University of Montana, focusing on plant molecular ecology. At MPG Ranch she is involved in both original research and bioinformatics, combining biology and computer science to better interpret molecular data. When not working, Lorinda enjoys going to the gym, gardening and getting outside.