Date of Submission

Fall 2021

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Cathy Collins

Abstract/Artist's Statement

There is a notion that host-generalist pathogens affect many different species, but are not as deadly, while host-specialist pathogens affect fewer seed species and have more severe effects. However, relatively little is known about whether most soil fungi are host-specialists, host-generalists, or the magnitude of impact they have on seed germination. I explored the concept of a niche breadth in fungi cultured from seeds buried for a year in patches of forest in Northeastern Kansas. To assess the degree to which each fungus was pathogenic, and whether temperature altered pathogenicity, I quantified germination of nine different seed species at two temperatures, 20°C, and 25°. The nine different seed species included species from which the fungus was cultured, as well as other species found in the landscape. Overall, I found that most fungal-seed relationships were commensil (i.e. fungi had no negative or positive effects on seed germination); however, some commensalistic seed-fungi interactions can become pathogenic with higher temperatures. This suggests that increasing the temperature can change how fungi are characterized. Interestingly, I also discovered that the fungi cultured from several species of seeds (host-generalist) was pathogenic toward several—but not all—species, but the fungi detected and cultured from a single plant species (host-specialist) was not pathogenic on its host. I also discovered that disease-severity across species that a fungi acts as a pathogen in. Overall, my study suggests that an increase in temperature can result in commensalistic interactions change to pathogenic interactions depending on the species of seed in fungi.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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