Morphological and molecular identification of mycorrhizal plants and fungi from the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
In this project, an REU intern will have the opportunity to explore the community ecology of mycorrhizae (plant-fungal symbioses) in the seasonally dry tropical forests of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The laboratory component of this project will provide experience identifying fungal spores using microscopy, as well as identifying plants and fungi using the direct sequencing of DNA "barcode" loci. REU interns will also have the opportunity to use cutting edge bioinformatic software tools for taxonomic identification of DNA sequences and community analysis. Pending student interest, the availability of funds, and the support of the Chicago Botanic Gardens REU program, this project could also include a field component, where interns would assist in the collection of soil samples and plant community data from sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. Students interested in developing projects focused on tropical ecology, plant/fungal biology, or DNA sequence analysis are encouraged to enquire further.