Supervisor: Dr. Hugh Henry
Cross-protection is a phenomenon that occurs when exposure to one stress increases tolerance to a second different stress. Both frost and drought result in cellular dehydration and there are similar increases in protective compounds, but it is currently unknown whether exposure to frost can increase the survival and growth of plants under drought. Poa pratensis
was frozen at 0, -5 or -10 for 3 d in the fall or spring and then subjected to no drought, a moderate drought, or a severe drought for 3 weeks in the summer. There was a significant interaction between frost and drought stress, where freezing resulted in higher survival, biomass and relative growth rates under severe drought. However, this interaction did not appear to be related to the retention of soluble sugars after freezing.
Supervisor: Dr. Greg Thorn
Tall grass prairies are known for their drastic reduction across North America and there is great interest in restoring them via conversion from agricultural land. Large-scale ecological studies of soil organisms have been greatly facilitated by the advent of high throughput sequencing. The Agaricomycetes are class of fungi found in prairie soils, best known for producing macro scale fruiting bodies or “mushrooms”. My study uses both mushroom and soil sequence data from prairies in various stages of recovery since agricultural use. Which factors drive prairie Agaricomycete composition? Years since tillage, dominant plants, soil minerals & organic matter, and geographic location will be considered. In the process, tall grass prairies in Ontario can be characterized by their mushroom diversity and comparisons will be made between my two sampling methods (mushroom collection vs. soil sequencing). This will lead to insights into fungal community succession, prairie restoration, and the natural history of our grasslands.