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A Study of Truffle Mycorrhiza Ecology with Dr. Rytas Vilgaly
September 19 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
On a cold morning in February 2022 the Microbial Ecology and Evolution class (Bio557L) from Duke University visited Burwell Farms in north central North Carolina. The class was led by Dr. Rytas Vilgalys, Dr. Jake Nash and Dr. Corbin Bryan. Burwell Farms invited the class to conduct research on the effects of high pH and other orchard management practices on Tuber borchii and native fungi and bacteria. Burwell Farms has earned fame for having successfully cultivating T. borchii with loblolly pine and is currently the USA’s most productive truffle orchard (Smithsonian Magazine June 2021). The students learned best truffle cultivation practices and how two dogs, Elora and Laddie, work to find truffles. As part of the class project, students collected fresh soil and root samples from within and outside the truffle orchard. Then students performed a series of forest microbiome analyses using both Sanger and nextgen sequencing (ITS gene for fungi, 16S gene for bacteria). In this webinar, Dr. Vilgalys will present their findings which compare the fungal and bacterial communities associated with managed and natural pine forest microbiomes.
Rytas Vilgaly’s lab group at Duke University uses molecular approaches to study natural history of fungi. He was one of the first to apply PCR-based methods for studying fungal systematics and was one of the lead investigators associated with the Fungal Tree of Life project which elucidated the evolutionary history of the Kingdom Fungi. Current research uses molecular approaches to study fungal diversity and function in forest environments.…