Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. R. Greg Thorn


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomeromycota) form beneficial symbiotic relationships with the majority of land plants, especially in grasslands. Tallgrass prairies in Ontario are an endangered plant community currently being restored on former agricultural land. The objectives of my study were to determine if there were differences in the communities of Glomeromycota between disturbed and undisturbed tallgrass prairies in Ontario and if there were any potential indicator taxa for the ends of the disturbance spectrum. A molecular approach using DNA derived from soil samples was used to compare species composition between disturbed and undisturbed tallgrass prairies. A total of 177 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in nine genera of Glomeromycota were retrieved. Analyses showed a clear pattern of disturbed and undisturbed prairies clustering separately based on species composition of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and distinguished OTUs that were indicators of disturbed (Claroideoglomus and select Glomus spp.) or undisturbed (Ambispora, Diversispora, and Glomus spp.) sites.