Catalog 2013-2014

Fungal Ecology

  • Semester: Summer
  • Course Number: NS380
  • Instructors: Laura Spence
  • Credit: 3


Fungi, the so-called 'Fifth Kingdom', are not always obvious as members of the natural communities surrounding us, but nonetheless fungi are key players in many ecosystem processes. This course will introduce students to the ecology and diversity of fungi, as well as human uses of fungi. Students will learn about the wide range of fungal roles in ecosystem functioning such as wood-decayers, free-living soil decomposers, plant symbionts and pathogens. There will also be a focus on mycorrhizal symbioses: mutually beneficial interactions that occur between plant roots and fungi, found in >90% of plant species worldwide. This course will teach practical techniques for investigating mycorrhizal colonization of plant roots and abundance of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil, and will consider the use of mycorrhiza as tools for ecological restoration and sustainable agriculture.