Date of Submission

Spring 2021

Academic Program

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Jennifer Phillips

Project Advisor 2

Elias Dueker

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In an effort to harness the benefits of perenniality on soil health, a perennial wheatgrass called Kernza (Thinopyrum intermedium) has been developed for commercial use at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. The effects of a cultivar of Kernza intended for the Hudson Valley, NY were examined in this study using Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) as an indicator of soil health. AMF are an obligate symbiotic fungi known to provide physical and biological benefits to soil and plant systems. Fields containing one and four year old Kernza, as well as a field of an annual winter wheat were sampled to assess how time since planting affects relative abundance and diversity of AMF. ITS metagenomics were used for data collection and analysis. Results showed the highest relative abundance of the phylum Glomeromycota (members of which are classified as AMF) in the four year old Kernza plot, followed by the one year old Kernza, and the lowest relative abundance in the winter wheat. The highest levels of diversity were also found in the four year old Kernza plot, followed by the one year old Kernza, and the lowest levels of diversity were found in the winter wheat. Sample site (field) was found to have a statistically significant effect on diversity (Shannon; F=3.6297, p=0.04868, Observed; F= 32.225, p=1.645e-06). Though there were limitations in data collection and analysis, these results point to the significance that time without disturbance, year round ground cover, and the deep rooted nature of perennial crops has on AMF community composition and abundance.

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