Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jennifer Adams Krumins

Committee Member

Dirk Vanderklein

Committee Member

Greg Pope

Committee Member

Frank Gallagher


This study examined ectomycorrhizal and plant relationships in contaminated soil in situ to determine the interactions between these three factors. Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) were identified by physical morphotyping followed by sequencing of ribosomal DNA. Plant productivity was assessed through Leaf Area Index (LAI) measurements taken from May through August of 2012 and 2013. Changes in EMF community composition and plant productivity were observed based on their position on the metal contamination gradient. While EMF composition changed depending on the level of metal contamination, none of the ectomycorrhizal species consistently outcompeted other species in the highly contaminated environments. Cenococcum geophilum was the dominant species in the low contaminated environments. Higher LAI values are seen in environments with higher sol metal loads, however, this could be due to multiple factors such as increased moisture and the dominance of metal-tolerant tree species. The results here highlight the importance of looking at multiple variables to determine the factors that have the greatest relevance in a natural setting.

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