Dimensions of Biodiversity: An Interdisciplinary Study of Hyperdiverse Endophytic Fungi and their Function in Boreal Forests


Outreach Overview

For additional information, contact Betsy Arnold (Arnold@ag.arizona.edu)

Broader impacts: data, tools, and culture collections. This project will yield a unique, publicly available culture library of up to 6800 strains of previously unknown boreal endophytic fungi and their associated endohyphal symbionts. These fungi and host vouchers will be housed in a public collection (ARIZ, http://ag.arizona.edu/mycoherb) and highlighted through Herbarium tours for >150 public visitors/year. Vouchers and associated metadata will be visible to the public through our EnDoBiodiversity.org web portal. Our novel approach to circumscribing new species will lead to deposition of type strains at CBS and will be introduced to the fungal systematic community through a workshop at CBS during year 3, followed by a symposium during year 4 that will be proposed to the International Mycological Congress (IMC10) organization committee. Complementing these physical resources and activities are the creation and sharing of electronic resources for biodiversity informatics, with a focus on sharing high-quality ecological, phylogenetic, taxonomic, functional, genomic, and genetic data and offering a suite of novel bioinformatics tools for rapid, integrative analyses of diversity.

Mentorship at many levels. Mentorship of junior researchers will include a strong focus at the high school level, through which we will support academic-year and summer research internships in our laboratories and develop and conduct teacher- and student workshops on all facets of endophyte diversity (one annually for each of three years) at the North Carolina School of Science and Math (Durham, NC) and Tucson High Magnet School (AZ), a largely minority-serving, urban high school with an established, award-winning science research program. Workshops will be distributed as videos and manuals through EnDoBiodiversity.org as public toolkits for curriculum development.

Teacher training will be supported in partnership with the UM Curriculum and Instruction group, through which STEM teachers will sample fungi from boreal forest plants in a climate-warming experiment in northern Minnesota, design and test hypotheses about diversity and function, and gain training in teaching, plant and fungal biology, and evolution.

These outreach efforts will be complemented by mentorship of undergraduate researchers at all four institutions, Ph.D. students at UM and NCSU, and postdoctoral scholars at UA, UM, and Duke. Curriculum development for undergraduate courses, including Symbiosis (Duke), Microbial Diversity (UA), and General Botany (UM) will be supported by this project, reaching >250 undergraduates/year. Finally, in addition to the extensive network of international collaborators united through this project, FL will host visiting researchers from international labs for circumscribing taxonomic diversity and providing outstanding training opportunities for international students and postdocs.