Block title

MPG Microbial Ecology Facilities

Microbial communities in soils and plants differ with microsite conditions, environmental factors, and the resident flora and fauna. The MPG laboratory investigates how microbial communities and individual species influence the competitive ability and vigor of plants. We use this bottom-up approach to learn how microbes affect plant communities on a landscape scale.

Research at the MPG laboratory focuses on the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi of invasive plants, fungal pathogens in cheatgrass, nitrogen-fixing bacteria in shrubs, and fungal endophyte communities in Western white pines. We also use stable isotope and quantum dot technologies to track carbon and nutrient fluxes through grasslands invaded by exotic plants.

Lab Capabilities


- Plant and microbial DNA extractions

- DNA purification

- Next generation/454 sequencing prep

- DNA amplification (PCR)

- Gel electrophoresis


- DNA sequence analyses


- Greenhouse experiments

- Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) microscopy

- Seed vernalization

- pH testing

- Soil sample processing

- Plant tissue analyses

- Fungal and bacterial culturing

Research Methods Glossary

acoustic monitoring

bal chaitri trap or noose trap


bird banding

blood sampling

carcass trap

Common garden experiments

Cover crop testing

DNA extraction

We primarily use PCR DNA extraction. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique used in molecular biology to amplify a single copy or a few copies of a segment of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence.

drop-down trap

feather sampling

Forage species trials

Free living or symbiotic nitrogen fixer activity

Germination testing


Glasshouse experiments

Greenhouse experiments

Growth chamber trials

Herbicide trials

Illumina DNA sequence library preparation

Image classification

Insect Netting

Insect trapping



Microscopic photography


mist nets

nest searching

Non-structural carbohydrates in plant material

pit tagging

Plant material evaluation

Plant trait analysis

PLFA extractions

point count

Pure culture isolation and propagation

Remote sensing

Root viability

satellite telemetry

Seed inoculation

Seeding methods

Shrub establishment techniques

Soil nutrient analyses

Soil nutrient analysis

Soil respiration

Spatial analysis

spot mapping

territory mapping

VHF radio telemetry