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

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.

Illumina DNA sequence library preparation

Soil nutrient analyses

Root viability


Microscopic photography

Pure culture isolation and propagation

Glasshouse experiments

Non-structural carbohydrates in plant material

Soil nutrient analysis

PLFA extractions

Soil respiration

Free living or symbiotic nitrogen fixer activity



Plant trait analysis

Plant material evaluation

Seeding methods

Cover crop testing

Herbicide trials

Seed inoculation

Growth chamber trials

Greenhouse experiments

Germination testing

Forage species trials

Shrub establishment techniques

Common garden experiments

Remote sensing

Image classification

Spatial analysis



mist nets

nest searching

territory mapping

spot mapping

acoustic monitoring

satellite telemetry

VHF radio telemetry

bird banding

bal chaitri trap or noose trap

drop-down trap

carcass trap

point count

blood sampling

feather sampling

Insect trapping

Insect Netting

pit tagging