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The fungi found around seeds and plant roots dictate the development of plants and their ability to germinate and grow into seedlings. Temperature mediates fungal growth rate, and temperature, in turn, can be affected by fragmentation across a landscape. This temperature variation across a landscape can create a variety of thermal niches for soil microbes, specifically in relation to soil fungus. If different fungal taxa have different optimal growing temperatures, thermal variation across a landscape may explain why fungal communities differ between large and small patches. The question I am looking to answer is whether a fungal taxon has a different final growth sizes because of the environmental temperature. Another aspect I looked to answer was whether different fungal taxa have different growth end-points due to taxon. The fungi I examined were originally cultured from seeds buried in both small and large patches. I grew a variety of fungal taxa at varying temperatures. The results showed that within one fungal taxa, each temperature trial produced different final growths. The data also showed that all of the taxa grew to different sizes in each temperature trial. There were two taxa, Sordariomycetes and Fusarium, that grew to relatively the same size, but this does not indicate growth rates. This research shows that there are differences in growth patterns of soil fungi collected from a fragmented landscape. Knowing this basic information about soil fungi allows future research to be conducted on what abiotic environments will be the most influential on soil fungi growth. The growth habits of distinct fungi may influence seed mortality, contributing to patterns of plant diversity across fragmented landscapes.
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Kuhn, Kara Emme Clemens, "Determining the thermal niche of soil-borne seed fungi" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 11.