Major

Biology

Research Abstract

Many microbes live in and on plants. Some of these microbes are mutualists, and help the plant, while others are pathogenic and cause harm. It is not always clear which will occur, because the outcomes are influenced by the host, the microbe, and their shared environmental context. A previous study from our lab of the microbes associated with cover crops at the oldest continually-operating organic farm in California, Star Route Farms, found that leaves of cover crops were frequently inhabited by fungi in the classes Dothideomycetes, Leotiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, and Agaricomycetes. Using the recently-published FungalTraits database, I determined the commonly observed lifestyles of these classes of fungi. I found that they were generally found either as endophytes (not causing disease) or plant pathogens. Another interesting observation from our previous study was that the composition of foliar fungal communities in purple vetch (Vicia sp.) were significantly altered if they were planted near daikon radish (Raphanus sativus). This project sought to analyze the composition of these two microbial communities in vetch leaves—planted with or without radish—and infer their potential ecological effects. I found that there were two primary fungal families that could explain these differences in vetch when planted with or without radish: the Protomycetaceae and the Sclerotiniaceae. The sequences of family Protomycetaceae appeared in more purple vetch leaf samples (and at higher sequence abundances) when purple vetch was planted with daikon radish, compared to when purple vetch was planted without daikon radish. Sequences from the family Sclerotiniaceae appeared in higher frequencies when purple vetch was planted without daikon radish. Work is ongoing to assess the statistical support for these findings. The FungalTraits database suggests that families Protomycetaceae and Sclerotiniaceae both primarily contain species that act as plant pathogens, which may indicate that the decision to use daikon radish as part of a cover crop mixture has more complex implications than previously thought. The findings provide new insight on the effects of planting of daikon radish as a part of cover crop mixtures, which could help to inform organic agricultural practices elsewhere.

Faculty Mentor/Advisor

Naupaka Zimmerman

Available for download on Sunday, January 01, 2040

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May 7th, 12:00 AM May 10th, 12:00 AM

Hidden Consequences: The Effects of Daikon Radish on the Microbial Communities of Purple Vetch in Cover Crop Mixtures

Many microbes live in and on plants. Some of these microbes are mutualists, and help the plant, while others are pathogenic and cause harm. It is not always clear which will occur, because the outcomes are influenced by the host, the microbe, and their shared environmental context. A previous study from our lab of the microbes associated with cover crops at the oldest continually-operating organic farm in California, Star Route Farms, found that leaves of cover crops were frequently inhabited by fungi in the classes Dothideomycetes, Leotiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, and Agaricomycetes. Using the recently-published FungalTraits database, I determined the commonly observed lifestyles of these classes of fungi. I found that they were generally found either as endophytes (not causing disease) or plant pathogens. Another interesting observation from our previous study was that the composition of foliar fungal communities in purple vetch (Vicia sp.) were significantly altered if they were planted near daikon radish (Raphanus sativus). This project sought to analyze the composition of these two microbial communities in vetch leaves—planted with or without radish—and infer their potential ecological effects. I found that there were two primary fungal families that could explain these differences in vetch when planted with or without radish: the Protomycetaceae and the Sclerotiniaceae. The sequences of family Protomycetaceae appeared in more purple vetch leaf samples (and at higher sequence abundances) when purple vetch was planted with daikon radish, compared to when purple vetch was planted without daikon radish. Sequences from the family Sclerotiniaceae appeared in higher frequencies when purple vetch was planted without daikon radish. Work is ongoing to assess the statistical support for these findings. The FungalTraits database suggests that families Protomycetaceae and Sclerotiniaceae both primarily contain species that act as plant pathogens, which may indicate that the decision to use daikon radish as part of a cover crop mixture has more complex implications than previously thought. The findings provide new insight on the effects of planting of daikon radish as a part of cover crop mixtures, which could help to inform organic agricultural practices elsewhere.