Undergraduate Research 

K E Vaughn, Biology BS, May ’09                                                                                                        H H Khidir, Biology BS, May ’09                                                                                                         D M Eudy, Biology BS & Art History BA, Aug ’08                                                                  Research Advisor: Dr. J Herrera

As part of Truman State University’s 2008 Molecular Ecology Summer Program [DEB-0715746]

In May and June of 2008, root samples of Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama, an important forage grass) were collected from five locations—Ojuelos, Jalisco, Mexico; Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico; Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, NM; Wind Cave National Park near Hot Springs, SD; and Grasslands National Park near Val Marie, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Using molecular and traditional (culture-based) techniques, we are assessing the root-associated fungal (RAF) communities inhabiting the secondary roots of this common forage grass. We hope to gain insight on the variability of the RAF communities along this latitudinal transect as well as identifying primary fungal species that may be common to B. gracilis roots along the extent of the latitudinal gradient and consequently, may play an important ecological role.


Previous assessments of B. gracilis secondary roots revealed numerous coprophilic fungal sequences of several species within the roots.  Consequently, we seek to determine if dung plays a role in the life cycle or serves as a mechanism in RAF plant root colonization. Therefore, we are also using molecular and traditional techniques to assess the microfungal communities within dung samples from Bos taurus, Antilocapra americana, Cynomys gunnisoni from Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, along with Cynomys ludovicianus, and Bison bison from Wind Cave National Park also collected in May and June of 2008 (cattle, pronghorn, Gunnison’s prairie dog, black-tailed prairie dog, and bison, respectively).




From Left:  J Herrera, K Vaughn, D Eudy, and H Khidir in Wind Cave National Park


                                     Jornada Experimental Range  near Las Cruces, NM.

                                                      D Eudy and H Khidir at a collection site in Janos, Mexico.


The grass of interestBouteloua gracilis at Jornada Experimental Range


 Copriniopsis on bison dung in Wind Cave National Park.  This genus has also been found in B. gracilis roots.