2017 November General Meeting: Laura Bogar - "Fungal frenemies" (by )

? WHEN: 11/15/2017, 7-9 pm
? WHERE: Harvey West Scout House, Harvey West Scout House

Please join us for our General Meeting at the Harvey West Scout House.  Refreshments will be provided and informal mushroom ID from 7:00 - 7:30.  A discussion of upcoming events will precede our speaker, Laura Bogar, PhD candidate at Standford University. 

Fungal frenemies:  How can roots tell good fungi from bad?

Nearly all land plants rely on fungi to help them extract nutrients from the soil. These mycorrhizal fungi need the plants, too, bringing nutrients to plant roots in exchange for carbon (sugars) from photosynthesis. But how can plants tell which fungi will really help them get nutrients, and which will be dead weight (or even parasites)? Laura’s work examines how plants and fungi choose their "friends," focusing on the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis. This mycorrhizal association is crucial for the nutrition of many temperate trees, and is the reason that porcini, chanterelles, and matsutake grace our forests in the winter. In this presentation, Laura will share some of her dissertation work, highlighting experiments that examine how plants and fungi negotiate their relationships. Her study fungi, Suillus brevipes and Thelephora terrestris, are common at her field sites in Point Reyes, and may be very different fungi from the perspectives of their plant hosts. How do plants and fungi decide who their symbiotic partners will be? Answering this question will lend insight into the evolution of mutualism itself, improve our understanding of forest ecology, and illuminate the details of carbon and nitrogen cycling through forested ecosystems.

Laura Bogar is a fifth year PhD student working with Kabir Peay at Stanford University. Originally from Seattle, she completed her bachelor's degree at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon in 2012. Her dissertation research is focused on the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis between land plants and soil fungi. Laura is interested in how ectomycorrhizal plants and fungi choose their symbiotic partners and negotiate their interactions, using genetics and physiology to understand small-scale mechanisms that can influence large-scale ecological processes.