Fig: The Oregon Oak habitat where my samples are collected
Ectomycorrhizal fungi are extremely important to the function of forest ecosystems and plant communities as they form symbiotic relationships with over eighty percent of vascular plants by colonizing the feeder roots and increasing nutrient and water uptake. My research will focus on the identification and phylogenetic relationships of a subset of Cortinarius (the largest genus of ectomycorrhizal fungi) species associated with the Oregon Oak in the Columbia George of southwest Washington. I am extracting DNA from samples collected in the field over the past four years. Using Polymerase Chain Reaction the nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2) will be amplified with primers ITS1F and ITS4. DNA sequencing and analysis will be done using Finch TV and BLAST alignment software. We expect that most of the species will be new to science, and that these analyses will provide insight into their ecology and relationships to other oak associated species in western North America and Europe. For example, What can we learn about the biogeography of the Cortinarius genus? Will we see co-evolutionary patterns between these species and ones in other parts of the temperate world?
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