Patterns and Processes of Diversity in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (Glomeromycota)

EPA Grant Number: F6F11252
Title: Patterns and Processes of Diversity in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (Glomeromycota)
Investigators: Gravier, Jacquelyn Kelly
Institution: University of Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through September 1, 2009
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Biology/Life Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Evolutionary Biology


Understanding the mechanisms that maintain plant biodiversity is critical to managing ecosystem stability and productivity, biodiversity preservation, the restoration of natural habitats, agricultural land use, and predicting ecosystem change as a result of human impacts. My research investigates the relative contributions of regional and local processes to AMF diversity and community structure in conjunction with plant and soil characteristics to further our understanding of plant coexistence in a critically important natural system.

The aim of this study is to evaluate the relative contributions of local and regional processes to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) diversity and composition in a natural community and determine to what extent the ecology of AMF is linked to plant or soil characteristics. This information would provide an important reference for determining the appropriate spatial scale at which to study and examine AMF communities, while offering insight into AMF related factors that may contribute to plant community diversity and structure.


This study will address local and regional diversity by determining the scale dependence, alpha(α)–beta(β)–gamma(γ) relationships, and phylogeography of AMF in the neo-tropics, through combining a spatially structured field study with ecological theory. This multidimensional analysis is being conducted in a Costa Rican rain forest (La Selva Biological Station), which will allow this study to contribute both to our general understanding of above- and below-ground diversity, as well as plant biodiversity in a critical habitat.

Expected Results:

Based on current knowledge and preliminary data, it is hypothesized that this study will show the diversity of plants to be related to AMF diversity and that local processes are more important than regional processes to overall AMF ecology. Furthermore, it is expected that the data will support the notion that AMF reflect broad trends of plant diversity, that are more diverse in the tropics and exhibit clear biogeographic structure.

Supplemental Keywords:

KEYWORDS: plant diversity, mycorrhizal fungi, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, tropical plant ecology, tropical fungi, spatial ecology,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Monitoring/Modeling, Habitat, Environmental Monitoring, habitat dynamics, habitat species co-occurrence, agricultural land use, fungi, biodiversity, habitat population structure, habitat preservation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final