My name is Allison May Buiser and I attend Knox College. This summer I was a summer intern at the Chicago Botanic specifically at the soil laboratory in the Plant Science Center! I worked with my awesome mentor Kathryn Schreiner and College First student, Erica Rocha. For eight weeks, I specifically looked into the degradation of fungi in soils. I further investigated my two main questions: "Is there necromass degradation from one species of fungus?" and "What is the chemical signature from what is left over?" I looked further into these questions because little is known how carbon is stored in soil organic matter. I conducted an in situ experiment and harvested Fusarium avenaceum at Dixon Prairie. I harvested four sample packets of fungal tissue on Day 0, Day 1, Day 2, Day 4, Day 7, Day 14, Day 21, Day 28. I then grounded each packet through mortar and pestle to a fine powdery substance. I used the FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) at Northwestern University to be able to get a chemical analysis of functional groups and bonds. I added constituent peaks in a PeakFit software to further analyze the carbohydrate and amide region of the FTIR.
Overall, I had an amazing experience that I will reminisce. I was able to meet and bond with other great interns whether it was at the lab or the field trips to the prairies or sand dunes! Here are a couple pictures of my experience!
This is me preparing a 1x1m PVC tube with 10x10cm grid for each fungal packet to be buried 5 cm below surface.
Sorry for the lighting and blurriness, just a picture my excited dad took during the presentation on Friday at the Field Museum!