Investigating the threats chytrid fungi pose to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) along the eastern U.S. barrier islands and in AMF living collections

Matt Kasson
Matt Kasson
Barrier islands comprising an under-sampled U.S. ecoregion (Ecoregion 63), the Mid-Atlantic U.S. coastal plain (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina) and INVAM, The International Collection of (Vesicular) Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, West Virginia
project abstract

Despite extensive ECM and AMF sampling across North America, unsampled ecoregions persist, especially the coastal regions along the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. One of the unique landforms that comprise these under sampled coastal ecoregions particularly in the Eastern U.S. are barrier islands, which support coastal dune plant communities. Despite many U.S. barrier islands containing federally protected public lands, these islands have experienced significant coastal erosion because of sea level rise and storm surge. As such, the plant and mycorrhizal communities they support are quite vulnerable. In addition to abiotic factors that are threatening these mycorrhizal communities, chytrid fungi may also pose real threats to mycorrhizal networks, particularly in poorly drained plant communities common across the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain ecoregion. Our project aims to uncover the diversity of AMF communities across the eastern U.S. barrier islands and their associated chytrid communities to better understand the contemporary threats mycorrhizal communities face in a wetter, warmer world.