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Symposium Proceedings


Poster Session F: 

4:00 - 5:00 pm

Entomology and Plant Pathology; Horticulture and Landscape Architecture; Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Nutritional Sciences; Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution; and Plant and Soil Sciences (29 posters)




F-01     Reese Trujillo

Research Collaborators:  Renate Krause Sakate and Francisco Ochoa

Research Presentation Title:  Detection of Bemisia Tabaci Meam1 and Med Cryptic Species in Oklahoma

Faculty Research Mentor:  Francisco Ochoa Corona, Entomology and Plant Pathology


The agricultural importance of Oklahoma combined with the sheer efficiency of insect pests for virus transmission makes whiteflies and the viruses they transmit a recipe for economic losses in the agriculture sector. Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) are small pest that quickly develop insecticide-resistance. Therefore, chemical control of infestations is difficult in affected crops i.e., pepper, sweet potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, bean, hibiscus, etc. Two main cryptic species of Bemisia tabaci are reported to cause damage in the U.S, B. tabaci MEAM1 (Middle East Asia Minor 1, also called biotype B) and B. tabaci MED (Mediterranean, biotype Q). The two cryptic species transmit different viruses. Since minimal documentation is available for whiteflies in Oklahoma, insects were collected from different host plants in Stillwater, Oklahoma from August to October 2022. DNA was extracted and PCR was performed with primers that discriminate between MEAM1 and MED cryptic species. The partial mtCOI gene was also sequenced and a phylogenetic tree constructed. The results indicate the presence of MEAM 1 and MED cryptic species in Oklahoma. This is the first report of MED in Oklahoma. The correct identification of B. tabaci cryptic species contribute to structure management strategies, identifying the ecological niches, and pest movement.


F-02     Abby Pace

Research Collaborators:  Charles Fontanier and Christopher Strock

Research Presentation Title:  Evaluating Various Colors of Europium and Dysprosium Doped Strontium Aluminate Phosphorescent Powders on Rose Cut Flowers

Faculty Research Mentor:  Bruce Dunn, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture


Rose cut flowers are a classic flower that is often chosen for special events or any day occasions. Tinting of the flower by means of color addition increases the flower's economical value and its aesthetic appeal. The study evaluated red and white luminescent rose cut flowers which was achieved by applying six different phosphorescent powders. Solutions of each color were prepared by mixing 6 g of powder and 240 ml of deionized water and sprayed four times around the flower plus a control. Images were taken of the flowers before UV blacklight exposure and after exposure to be later analyzed with ImageJ software. Daily measurements were taken including vase weight, average floral diameter, visual deterioration based on scale of 1 – 4. Overall measurements included mean brightness, RGB measured values, dominant wavelengths of emitted color, flower diameter change rate, and calculations relating to water relations. By day 10, all treatments had a rating at or above a 3 except for the control of the white roses. The floral diameter and floral diameter change rate of the treatments increased days 1 – 4 and were relatively stable for the rest of the study. Blue powder on white roses was the only treatment to have luminescence before UV exposure. Although blue illustrated luminescence before UV exposure, the majority of the flowers emitted luminescence once exposed to UV. Green powder on white flowers had the greatest brightness of luminescence after UV exposure. The mean brightness after UV overall has higher values at beginning of the study and the brightness decreased over the study. All colors were able to produce luminescence except for the red powder. Dominant wavelengths matched powder color except for white and orange powders. Overall, of the powders that luminesced, powders that were on white roses had greater brightness values, but green powder regardless of flower color, had higher brightness values than the red roses.


F-03     Natalie Santos

Research Collaborators:  Justin Quetone Moss

Research Presentation Title:  Glyphosate: Friend or Foe

Faculty Research Mentor:  Justin Quetone Moss, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture


Over the past couple of years, glyphosate has been a chemical under fire due to the controversy behind it. Due to the linkage with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, there was ongoing lawsuits with the product RoundupⓇ. However, there are numerous contradicting reports from the Environmental Protection Agency. International Agency for Research on Cancer, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Supreme Court decisions, and published research on this matter. This has created a mass confusion in the scientific opinion of glyphosate. To test for the presence of glyphosate in urban water, we obtained a first round of 16 urban water quality samples in Stillwater, OK for our examination. Samples showed glyphosate concentrations ranging from 0 µg/L to 50 µg/L in urban runoff areas, and from 12 µg/L to 2,000  µg/L in lawn samples immediately following herbicide application. Samples showed a variety of TDS (total dissolved salts) levels between 45.44 mg/L and 600.96 mg/L which are either “Very Low” or “Low” according to two TDS values, Lauchli and Luttge (L&L), and American Water Association (AWA) from sample sites in Stillwater, OK. In December 2022, prior to lawns and land being sprayed with herbicides, we collected 7 urban water quality samples in collaboration with USGS Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory in Lawrence, KS. In February 2023, after herbicidal applications have been made to lawns and land, 7 additional samples will be obtained, and the samples will be sent to USGS OGRL for further evaluation. The samples from December 2022 will serve as a baseline in comparison to the February 2023 samples and will demonstrate how glyphosate levels impact water quality after herbicide application. Upon the future analysis of a new set of samples, we will compare the new samples against the 2020 samples, specifically if changes in glyphosate were detected. Through examining the results of previous and future sample collections, we will be able to gain an understanding and view how glyphosate is impacting Stillwater’s water quality. Future work may include an analysis of the impact of glyphosate on wildlife habitat. 


F-04     Rylee Smith

Research Collaborators:  Lynda Carrier, Matt Beartrack, Sophia Darrow and Kacie Eshlemen

Research Presentation Title:  Effects of Soil on Vegetable Growth and Nutrients

Faculty Research Mentor:  Justin Quetone Moss, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture


Introduction: According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the world population is projected to increase from 7.8 billion in 2020 to 9.9 billion by 2050 (IISD, 2020). The quantity of food needs to increase alongside the ever-growing population to feed the world. In addition, 815 million people of Earth’s population are hungry and malnourished (Depta, 2018). The climbing population needs more food. However, are there effects that soil health has on crop production? Background Information: Five areas of soil’s critical evaluation are its pH, organic matter, and nutrient levels of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K). The soil does not naturally provide or replenish the nutrients, meaning that soil health must be maintained. Research Method: Soil health is vital for crop growth, flowering, and the production of fruits and vegetables. Over the next year, this experiment will investigate the effects of N-P-K ratio and soil health practices on the growth and health of the tomato fruit production, scientifically recognized as Solanum lycopersicum. The project begins with testing of soil health before the crops are planted. This was completed early of February 2023. Next, Solanum lycopersicum of the same variety, will be grown in a greenhouse for transplanting at one farm location. The plants will be divided into three experimental groups and planted under different conditions. The first group will serve as a control and will stay inside a greenhouse on a scheduled care. The second group will be planted in an area on a farm with high phosphorus levels and a clay soil type. The final group will be planted on the same farm with the same conditions and treatment previously listed but in a sandy soil type. After the growing season is completed the height of the plant, amount of fruit produced, and size of fruit will be measured and recorded. Finally, analyses will be conducted on the fruit to discover if vital nutrients are found.


F-05     Emily Chandler

Research Collaborators:  Mostafa Elshahed, Noha Youssef and Carrie Pratt

Research Presentation Title:  Continued isolation of anaerobic gut fungi from marsupial hosts

Faculty Research Mentor:  Mostafa Elshahed, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Anaerobic gut fungi (AGF) are commonly found in the digestive tracts of herbivores, where they play a crucial role in breaking down complex plant materials, such as cellulose and lignin, by adhering to plant biomass and producing enzymes and bioactive molecules that break down these complex sugars. AGF are particularly important in ruminants, such as cows and sheep, but they have also been found in other herbivorous animals, including marsupials, reptiles, and birds. The presence of AGF in marsupials, which are non-placental mammals that diverged from placental mammals approximately 125 million years ago, is strongly supported by both microscopic and sequence-based evidence. Because marsupials diverged early from other mammals and have been geographically isolated, they may represent an untapped source of undiscovered AGF genera. Previous efforts from our lab have successfully isolated two different AGF genera from captive marsupials, Eutestudomyces from a koala, and Khoyollomyces from a red kangaroo. It is of note that both AGF genera are early branching within the phylum and represent some of the oldest known representatives. We obtained fresh fecal samples from several kangaroos and wallabies in Oklahoma and are currently attempting to cultivate and identify new strains of AGF from these samples. Our approach involves utilizing a rumen fluid-based media under rigorous anaerobic conditions that has been supplemented with plant substrates and antibiotics to inhibit the growth of unwanted organisms. A successful enrichment is indicated by the visible development of bubbles and fungal biomass and increased pressure within the tube. Successive rounds of subculturing and picking colonies from roll tubes ensures the isolation of individual strains. Continuing to isolate AGF from marsupials will provide greater insight into the diversity and biology of these microorganisms and open up new possibilities for their use in various fields such as veterinary medicine, biofuels, and biomedical engineering.


F-06     James Coan, Jamison Doornbos and Adam Soriano

Research Collaborators:  Rebekkah Pope

Research Presentation Title:  The Effects of Environmental Factors on the Membrane Stability of Fungal Extracellular Vesicles

Faculty Research Mentor:  Rolf Prade, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane bound nano-szied particles present in all kingdoms of life that are responsible for transporting a myriad of cargo to the extracellular space. This cargo includes biomolecules such as enzymes, intercellular communicators, virulence factors, pigments, etc.  The characteristics of EVs are fairly well understood for prokaryotes and mammalian systems but remain poorly understood in fungi. This project tries to further characterize fungal EVs by examining their membrane stability in different environmental conditions using the filamentous fungus, Aspergillus nidulans. We hypothesize that differences in environmental factors (pH, temperature, and osmolarity) will affect EV membrane stability, in a similar fashion to how these factors are known to disrupt cellular membranes. EVs were purified by growing A. nidulans in liquid minimal media for up to 72 hours at 37˚C, followed by collection of the media and centrifugation to form a cell free supernatant (CFS). The CFS was then ultrafiltrated in a 300 kDa filter and washed with a buffer. The purified EVs were then tested for their purity and size by using dynamic light scattering (DLS) and TEM, which showed sizes ranging from 100-300 nanometers. To determine the effect of pH, temperature, and osmolarity on the isolated EVs, a fluorescent membrane stain was used to quantify EVs via flow cytometry. Flow cytometry allowed a way of quantifying EVs to make comparisons and draw conclusions about their membrane stability. Results show that low osmolarity deforms or destroys vesicles, while they withstand higher osmolarity rather well. Temperature tests revealed a weakness of the vesicles in high temperatures while lower temperatures had little effect on vesicle count. Overall, these environmental factors appeared to have a significant effect on EV stability and should be taken into consideration when performing future experiments on EVs and how to properly store them over time to guarantee the most accurate results.


F-07     Kaitlyn Cotton

Research Collaborators:  Benjamin Nelson, Nikolay Gerasimchuk and Karen Wozniak

Research Presentation Title:  Effects of Organoantimony Compounds on Fungal Pathogens Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida albicans

Faculty Research Mentor:  Karen Wozniak, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic pathogen that causes pulmonary cryptococcosis, or an acute or chronic infection in the lungs, and cryptococcal meningitis, an infection of the brain and spinal column, in immune-compromised individuals. Similarly, Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that can cause disease in the lung (often in cystic fibrosis patients), genitourinary tract, oral cavity, or bloodstream (candidemia). Overall, fungal infections are responsible for approximately 1.7 million deaths each year. In contrast to antibacterial drugs, the quantity of antifungal drugs capable of combating fungal infections remains low. With the high toxicity and increased resistance to antifungals in recent years, the importance of finding new options for antifungal therapy is even more crucial. We hypothesized that a series of organoantimony compounds would have antifungal activity. In our preliminary research, several compounds were identified to be antifungal against C. neoformans and C. albicans and were non-toxic to mammalian cells. These antifungal and non-toxic compounds were further investigated to determine mechanism(s) of action using electron microscopy (EM) and RNA-sequencing. RNA sequencing identified several C. neoformans genes and pathways up- or down-regulated following treatment with compounds A and E. Pathways involved in membrane transport and formation were up-regulated, while pathways involved in ribosome biogenesis, rRNA processing, and gene expression were down-regulated. EM studies show altered morphology and membrane/cell wall damage following treatment of C. neoformans with compounds A & E. Galleria mellonella infection models with C. neoformans exhibited the effectiveness of compound A at 120 ug/ul in vivo. These studies show that organoantimony compounds are promising antifungal therapies, and more studies are currently underway to narrow down their mechanism of anti-fungal activity.


F-08     Saylor Hampton

Research Collaborators:  Catalina Bradley, Gunnar Hoogerwerf, Clarice Huffman, Scout Powell, Sarah Teeman, Rosalie Dohmen, and Wouter Hoff

Research Presentation Title:  Analysis of the Role of Methyl-Accepting Chemotaxis Proteins in the Signal Transduction Chain of Photoactive Yellow Protein

Faculty Research Mentor:  Wouter Hoff, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


The photoactive yellow protein (PYP) elicits a range of biological responses in different bacteria upon blue light illumination, indicating diversity in its downstream signal transduction chain. Such responses include photoregulation of photo-protective pigment biosynthesis, photoregulation of biofilm formation, and negative phototaxis. We performed bioinformatics analyses of PYP homologs to identify both recurring genes within the same predicted operon as PYP and protein domains occurring in multidomain PYPs to further understand possible biological functions of PYP and its signal transduction pathways. One gene of interest that we identified is a PYP-MCP fusion protein.  The domain structure of this protein suggests that it is sensitive to blue light via its PYP domain and that it controls motility via its methyl-accepting chemotaxis (MCP) moiety, leading to the hypothesis that this protein triggers negative phototaxis. To further investigate the PYP-MCP fusion protein and its signal transduction chain, we are studying Nitrincola alkalilacustris sp., which contains a multidomain PYP. We aim to test the hypothesis that Nitrincola alkalilacustris  undergoes phototactic movement, particularly negative phototaxis when exposed to blue light (450-495nm) and that this response is due to the PYP. Since PYP functional photocycle is initiated by photoisomerization of its p-coumaric acid (pCA) chromophore, we plan to use a trans-locked pCA  analog that prevents the photocycle to attribute the observed phototaxis responses to PYP photoexcitation. These findings will provide novel information regarding the PYP signal transduction chain and provide a basis for future mechanistic studies on how PYP relays its signal to downstream signaling partners.


F-09     Darian Jackson

Research Collaborators:  Mostafa Elshahed, Noha Youssef, Carrie Pratt and Julie Angle

Research Presentation Title:  Developing an Inquiry-Based Lesson Plan for Science Education: Investigating Antibiotic Resistance in B. cereus and E. coli

Faculty Research Mentor:  Mostafa Elshahed, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Pathogenic bacteria can be countered with antimicrobial substances called antibiotics. Over time, bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics through genetic mutations or acquisition of new genes. Antibiotic resistance is a pressing issue as many health professionals rely solely on antibiotics to cure bacterial infections. As antibiotics decrease in effectiveness, we can expect to see increasing mortality rates and an overall poorer quality of life. Inquiry-based education is a relatively new approach to teaching that promotes explorative learning and student autonomy. Inquiry-based learning has students in an investigative role that gives them increased control over their education which leads to increased confidence and deeper understanding of learning topics. The purpose this research is to develop an inquiry-based lesson plan addressing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standard HS-LS4, performance expectation HS-LS4-4, which seeks to construct explanations regarding natural selection and adaptation. Students will select either B. cereus or E. coli to inoculate over an antibiotic of their choice to test whether their selected bacteria have developed resistance to their selected antibiotic. Class discussions will showcase genetic variation between and within species. Students will perform Kirby-Bauer disc assays with multiple antibiotics to promote understandings of different antibiotic modes of action. By developing a lesson to address the NGSS standard HS-LS4, students will investigate antibiotic resistance in bacteria and develop an understanding of its implications in health care.


F-10    Jacob Lieberman

Research Collaborators:  Timothy Hubin and Karen Wozniak

Research Presentation Title:  Antifungal Activity of Novel Macrocycle Derivatives on Cryptococcus neoformans

Faculty Research Mentor:  Karen Wozniak, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes cryptococcosis. After inhalation, the organism disseminates to the brain, where it causes cryptococcal meningitis. Annually, approximately 225,000 immunocompromised individuals develop cryptococcal meningitis, resulting in over 181,000 deaths. To treat these patients, there are only four classes of antifungals currently available and these options are toxic and ineffective. In addition, fungal pathogens are becoming resistant to existing antifungals. In the current study, we are testing the antifungal activity of macrocycle compounds, developed by our collaborator, against C. neoformans. These compounds have been shown to be active against many other fungal pathogens, allowing us to hypothesize that these compounds would exhibit antifungal activity against C. neoformans. We first tested 12 macrocycle compounds against C. neoformans strain H99. After incubating each compound at different concentrations with H99, the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was calculated. Compounds exhibiting antifungal activity were then tested for cytotoxicity using the mouse macrophage cell line J774.A. Effective, non-toxic  compounds were then assayed with existing antifungal drugs in checkerboard assays to determine possible synergistic or antagonistic activity. The majority of the compounds showed antifungal activity. Of these compounds, 6 were non-toxic. Initial checkerboard assays have shown synergistic and indifferent interactions between the tested compounds and antifungal drugs.  Future studies will focus on identifying the mechanism of action of these compounds. Confocal and electron microscopy will be used to identify changes in fungal cell wall & membrane morphology, and screening of mutant libraries will be used to identify mutants resistant to these compounds.


F-11     Nick Mason

Research Collaborators:  Nicholas Kiger, Stormie Dreadfulwater and Jeffrey Hadwiger

Research Presentation Title:  Role of G proteins in the translocation of a transcription factor in Dictyostelium

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jeffrey Hadwiger, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


G2 is a G protein in Dictyostelium that is coupled to cyclic AMP (cAMP) receptors and this G protein is required for chemotaxis to cAMP. Previous studies have shown that G2 is not essential for the activation of Erk2, an atypical kinase required for chemotaxis, suggesting cAMP receptors can regulate Erk2 through a pathway independent of G2. We hypothesized that this G2 independent signaling might occur through a pathway that uses the G1 subunit because of the structural similarity of this subunit to the G2 subunit. Erk2 activity can be assayed using a fluorescent protein-tagged transcription factor (GFP-GtaC) that translocates from the nucleus to cytoplasm when cells are stimulated with either chemoattractant, cAMP or folate. Recently through our experiments, we analyzed Erk2 activity in strains lacking G2 (g2-), G1 (g1-), or both G1 and G2 (g1-g2-) after stimulating with 10nM or 100nM cAMP. These assays were compared to assays in a wild-type (WT) strain. Our results suggest the absence of G2 reduces but does not completely eliminate the translocation of GFP-GtaC and the absence of Ga1 does not greatly impact the translocation compared to wild-type cells. However loss of both G1 and G2 allows for more translocation of GFP-GtaC than the loss of G2 suggesting that G1 might be a negative regulator of G2 function.

F-12     Riddhi Patel and Elizabeth Schneider

Research Collaborators:  Rosalie Dohmen, Sarah Teeman, Jake Mulready, Emily Hurst, Salma Sultana Priya, Wouter Hoff and Aihua Xie

Research Presentation Title:  Using Photoactive Yellow Protein to Develop Novel FTIR Spectroscopic Methods for Probing Three Protonation States of Histidine Side Chains

Faculty Research Mentor:  Wouter Hoff, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


The transfer of protons is a mechanism vital to cellular functions. The study of proton transfer allows us to better understand how this process contributes to signal, bioenergetics and bio-catalysis. Particularly histidine is a residue commonly found at active sites, where it often functions by altering its protonation state. Our aim is to develop generally applicable strategies based on Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to determine histidine side chain protonation states during protein function. To accomplish this, we utilize photoactive yellow protein (PYP), a water-soluble protein consisting of 125 amino acid residues, as a model system. The PYP from Halorhodospira halophila contains two histidine residues: one solvent exposed (His3), and one (His108) buried in a hydrophobic pocket. We used overexpression and purification of variants of PYP containing site-specific mutations and 15N3- and 13C6-15N3-His isotope editing to assign distinct infrared modes to His3 and His108. The analysis of static FTIR measurements on these protein samples at various pH values provides both vibrational mode assignments and protonation state determination, and insights into how the protonation states of these residues modulate PYP function. This project is providing a generic strategy for such research on histidine side chains.


F-13     Jake Patterson

Research Collaborators:  Hollis Holcomb and Erika Lutter

Research Presentation Title:  Identification of an Antivirulence Signal Produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Faculty Research Mentor:  Erika Lutter, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium that is associated with chronic infections in Cystic Fibrosis patient’s lungs. Pseudomonas can cause an infection that slowly and progressively damages the lungs and intermittently spikes in severity (an exacerbation) doing considerable damage to the host’s lungs before returning to its more chronic state. My research focuses on a Pseudomonas clinical isolate that produces a signal that makes other Pseudomonas isolates less virulent. We hypothesize that the signal producing isolate secretes a protein or peptide that dampens virulence factors in receptive Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates. Our goal is to isolate, identify, and characterize this secreted signal. We grew a signal producing Pseudomonas culture in liquid media to harvest the signal containing supernatant (all the liquid outside of the cells) and concentrate it by centrifugation. This was necessary for the second step: separating proteins within the concentrated supernatant through Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC). SEC separates proteins based on size into fractions. Using these fractions, we performed plate-based assays for detecting protease production that was developed by our lab. The goal of this was determining which fraction contains the protein or peptide that acts as the antivirulence signal. We are currently purifying a larger volume of supernatant to confirm the fraction. In conclusion, our results show the effect that the signal has on other Pseudomonas isolates, and that the signal is stable in cell free supernatants


F-14     Megan Roach

Research Collaborators:  Benjamin Nelson, Savannah Beakley and Karen Wozniak

Research Presentation Title:  Antifungal Mechanisms of Action by Dendritic Cell Lysosome Proteins

Faculty Research Mentor:  Karen Wozniak, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that primarily affects immunocompromised individuals and can cause cryptococcal meningitis. Approximately 200,000 cases of cryptococcal meningitis occur annually in HIV/AIDS patients, leading to 181,000 yearly deaths. Very few antifungal drugs are available to treat cryptococcal infection, and those are ineffective or toxic. In addition, fungal pathogens such as C. neoformans have become resistant to many types of treatment. Previous studies in our lab showed that proteins from the dendritic cell (DC) lysosome have antifungal activity against C. neoformans, including nostrin, human neutrophil elastase (HNE), matrix metalloproteinase 25 (MMP25), myeloperoxidase (MPO), and coronin. In this study, we tested the antifungal activity of the compound nostrin, one of the DC lysosomal proteins that has been known to exhibit these antifungal properties. We tested nostrin against the C. neoformans strain H99 using different concentrations of the drug and calculated the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). Then, confocal microscopy was used to examine structural changes in C. neoformans following treatment. Results showed that nostrin had a similar result to MICs performed with the antifungal drug Amphotericin B. In addition, confocal microscopy showed fungal cells treated with nostrin are releasing intracellular contents following incubation, indicating damage to the fungal cell wall or membrane. In future studies, we will continue to examine nostrin and other antifungal DC lysosome proteins in order to identify their mechanism(s) of antifungal activity.



F-15     Emma Roy

Research Collaborators:  Randy Morgenstein

Research Presentation Title:  Role of Actin Homolog MreB in Chemotaxis of Escherichia coli

Faculty Research Mentor:  Randy Morgenstein, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


MreB is the major actin homolog in Escherichia coli which regulates and maintains E. coli’s rod cell shape. In eukaryote cells, actin is involved in many cellular processes, including cell division, motility, and cell signaling. MreB is responsible for both cell elongation and cell width, but other functions of MreB remain largely unknown. It has been found that the elongation of E. coli cells changes the cells’ swimming parameters, directly influencing its chemotaxis capabilities. Chemotaxis is a cell’s ability to swim towards nutrients and away from repellants through the rotation of their flagella. To determine if MreB plays a part in chemotaxis we screened an alanine-scanning mutagenesis library for mutants that affect swimming. From this screen, we found 26 mutants that have increased swimming and 41 mutants that cannot swim in a soft-agar assay. We performed a suppressor screen on several non-swimming mutants to find strains with restored swimming. Both mreB specific PCR and whole genome sequencing was used to map these mutations. We found both intragenic and extragenic suppressor mutations that restore chemotaxis in these E. coli strains. Further study will focus on the relation between cell shape and chemotaxis through MreB and the extragenic mutations.


F-16     Jacob Surber

Research Presentation Title:  PtsI independently regulates cell length and width through multiple metabolic and signaling pathways

Faculty Research Mentor:  Randy Morgenstein, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


It has been long known that Escherichia coli can adjust its cell size and growth rate to nutrient availability. Several proteins, such as OpgH (which modulates cell division based on UDP-glucose concentration), and pyruvate kinase (which affects FtsZ assembly) couple nutrition to the cell elongation machinery. We have found that Enzyme I (ptsI) of the PTS plays a critical role in dictating cell morphology through its regulation of the phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP):pyruvate ratio and involvement in cAMP signaling. The PTS is responsible for the phosphorylation of PTS sugars (such as glucose) upon entrance into the cell; Enzyme I passes the phosphate group from PEP to the carrier protein Hpr. HPr then passes the phosphate to sugar specific Enzyme II proteins which phosphorylate specific sugars upon entry into the cell. We discovered that deletion of ptsI results in significantly shorter and thinner cells. The addition of pyruvate to media greatly corrects the cell length defects caused by ptsI deletion, while the addition of PEP further shrinks cells, suggesting that PtsI control over the PEP:pyruvate levels in the cell is important for cell length regulation. We found that interruption of cAMP production leads to similar outcomes as the absence of ptsI. These results indicate that ptsI might modulate cell size by separately influencing metabolite flux and cAMP signal transduction. In the future we hope to investigate how mutants respond to different levels of pyruvate/PEP and the specific cellular mechanisms activated by ptsI-induced cAMP.


F-17     Sarah Teeman

Research Collaborators:  Rosalie Dohmen, Matthew Cabeen, Wouter Hoff

Research Presentation Title:  Accelerating Bacterial Evolution in the Lab to Study the Loss of Nonessential Genes

Faculty Research Mentor:  Wouter Hoff, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


We explore the feasibility of addressing Antibiotic Resistance (AR) by using a global

rotation cycle of antibiotics. If a bacterium does not encounter an antibiotic to which it has a resistance gene, how long will it keep that gene? Retaining a “useless” gene, like an AR gene in the absence of antibiotic, may impose a fitness cost, resulting in loss of AR genes. Sustained

non-use of a particular antibiotic would encourage AR gene loss from human pathogens and thus recovery of sensitivity to that antibiotic. While the timescale for the emergence of AR has become clear, less is known about the timescale of AR gene loss. We use chemical mutagens at various concentrations to accelerate the rate of gene loss to a feasible timeframe for laboratory studies. Extrapolation to the rate of gene loss at zero mutagen concentration would then indicate the real-world rate of gene loss. We use a gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) in Eschecheria coli as an easily monitored “useless gene”. By placing the gene under the control of an inducible promoter, the fitness cost of GFP production can be increased. Loss of the gfp gene can be detected as a decrease in the ratio of GFP fluorescence intensity to cell density. Our preliminary data indicate that without the fitness cost of an additional plasmid, E. coli grows faster during log phase. These experiments offer a quantitative approach to study the timescale of unselected gene loss, including AR genes in the absence of antibiotics.


F-18     Rebecca Wilson

Research Collaborators:  Noopur Dasgupta and Erika Lutter

Research Presentation Title:  Understanding Antibiotic Resistance in Cystic fibrosis patients

Faculty Research Mentor:  Erika Lutter, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a lethal genetic disease, characterized by polymicrobial lung infections that are near impossible to treat due to the high level of antibiotic resistance of the pathogens. Though the multi-drug resistance of pathogens has been previously documented, the mechanisms for antibiotic resistance acquisition are still unknown. A prior screen of CF sputa identified the most resistant and multidrug-resistant bacterial candidates. This project aims to identify the MICs against antibiotics currently used in CF treatment for several bacterial isolates with subsequent genome sequencing to determine the genetic basis for their resistance mechanisms. Each bacterium was tested in an MIC broth dilution assay with various concentrations of each antibiotic to determine the minimum amount needed to inhibit the growth of each isolate.  Genomic DNA has also been isolated and will be sequenced with the genomes assembled by an external company. The assembled genomes will be searched for genes that confer antibiotic resistance mechanism to the antibiotics screened for. Looking at the genetic content, it may be possible to determine if the genes conferring resistance were transferred to the isolates from other bacteria. Information obtained from sequencing the genomes of the CF isolates will hopefully aid in understanding how to treat CF infections more effectively and improve the prognosis for CF patients.


F-19     Juliana Arndt

Research Collaborators:  Yoo Kim and Irene Lee

Research Presentation Title:  Preventive Effects of Red Ginseng on an Aging Hallmark – Senescence

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yoo Kim, Nutritional Sciences


Rationale/Objective: By 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or older, increasing the importance of interventional therapies for age-associated diseases. Research investigating cultural dietary differences recognized that the use of herbal medicine supplementation such as processed Panax ginseng, referred to as red ginseng (RG), increases lifespan in Asian countries by facilitating healthy aging. However, the mechanism for how RG prevents, delays, or reverses aging-related diseases is unknown. Thus, this study assessed how RG facilitates healthy aging by identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic senescence pathways in an aged mouse model. Methods: This study compared three groups of wild-type (C57BL/6) mice: control young mice (3-month-old), control old mice (18-month-old which is equivalent to 60-year-old human beings), and RG-treated old mice (18-month-old). The RG-treated mice received 300 mg/kg body weight/day of RG via oral gavage injection for 4 weeks. To evaluate how RG delays hepatic cellular senescence, we analyzed the protein expression levels of the main senescence effectors (p53, p21, and p27) from liver tissue samples and primary hepatocytes.  Results: The aged mice treated with RG showed significantly reduced protein expression levels of cellular senescence markers p53/p21 in primary hepatocytes and p27 and p21 in liver samples compared to the control aged mice. This expression level is closer to the expression witnessed from the control young mice.

Conclusion: RG supplementation attenuates hepatic cellular senescence by downregulating p53/p21 and p27 pathways. Therefore, our results suggest that RG could be a novel interventional agent for delaying cellular senescence. Relevance of Study: Our findings provide fundamental information that RG has the potential to be a widely used therapeutic agent to reduce the incidence of age-associated diseases.


F-20     Kate Dillon and Taylor Allen

Research Collaborators:  Christiana Nsiah-Asamoah, Moses Klevor, Emmanuel Ayifah, and Harriet Okronipa

Research Presentation Title:  The association between food insecurity and anemia among pregnant adolescents in Ghana

Faculty Research Mentor:  Harriet Okronipa, Nutritional Sciences


Background: Food insecurity can lead to nutritional deficiency conditions such as anemia. In Ghana food insecurity and anemia are common. While some associations have been reported between food insecurity and anemia among females of reproductive age, very little research exists that evaluates this relationship among pregnant adolescents. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the association between food insecurity and anemia among pregnant adolescents in Ghana. Methods: The study was part of the cross-sectional “Healthy Adolescents in Ghana (''HANIG”) study”. Pregnant adolescents aged 12-19 years were recruited from communities in Cape Coast, Ghana, using door-to-door recruitment strategies. Socio-demographic data, hemoglobin assessment and household food insecurity data were collected through in-person interviews at a central location. Food insecurity was assessed using the 10-item validated Child Food Insecurity Experience Scale. Participants were classified as having no food insecurity experiences (score of 0), few experiences (score 1-6), several experiences (score 7-10) and many experiences (score 11-20). Participants were classified as anemic if their hemoglobin (Hb) concentration was <11 g/dl, and non-anemic if Hb ≥11 g/dl. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine association between anemia and food insecurity status (no vs some experience). We adjusted for age, gestational age, employment status and school attendance. Results: On average, participants were aged 17±1.4 years, mostly not in school (70.50%), and unemployed (82.0%). Majority (80%) were anemic and many (83%) reported experiencing some level of food insecurity in the month preceding the interview:  21.7% had few experiences, 20.7% had several experiences, and 40.6% had many experiences . Only 17% reported no food insecurity experiences. We found no significant association between food insecurity and anemia among pregnant adolescents in both unadjusted (p=0.90) and adjusted (p= 0.94) analysis. Gestational age was positively associated with having anemia (p=0.02). Conclusion: Food insecurity was not associated with anemia among this population of pregnant adolescents. Future studies should investigate other possible factors, such as diet quality, that may be associated with anemia in this population to inform future interventions.


F-21     Taylor Frentz

Research Collaborators:  Andrew Whitaker

Research Presentation Title:  Impact of invasive Kudzu on microbial communities and nutrient cycling in Oklahoma soils

Faculty Research Mentor:  Andrea Jilling, Plant and Soil Science


Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is an invasive legume that is notorious for taking over land and decimating native vegetation. Alarmingly, Kudzu is starting to encroach in counties all over the state of Oklahoma and has been found in at least 28 areas (Claytor and Hickman, 2015). Kudzu can harm surrounding plant communities by outcompeting and choking them out. This is particularly concerning for agricultural fields, as an invasion of Kudzu could decimate tree farms and reduce timber production (Harron et al., 2020). Further understanding the mechanisms Kudzu uses to outcompete native vegetation and understanding the long-term implications to soil health after an invasion is therefore crucial so we can develop new ways to combat it. The effects of Kudzu on soil microbiological communities and nutrient cycling have remained largely unstudied, especially in the state of Oklahoma. The objective of this experiment is to determine if Kudzu invasion causes changes in microbial communities and nutrient cycling. A laboratory incubation of invaded and non-invaded soil with all possible combinations of the following treatments will be conducted: 1.) glucose addition vs. no glucose addition, and 2.) Kudzu leachate addition vs. no Kudzu leachate addition. Glucose addition will simulate plant root exudates, which may be a way to test if a combination of exudates and Kudzu leachate amplify effects on microbial activity. During a week-long incubation, soils will be analyzed for microbial biomass carbon, microbial community composition, total organic carbon and nitrogen, pH, and carbon and nitrogen mineralization. Each sample will be analyzed for quantification of microbial biomass carbon by using a chloroform fumigation extraction method.  Microbial community composition will be analyzed via a phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) assay to test for potential differences in microbial community that Kudzu may facilitate for advantageous growth. To test for total nitrogen and carbon levels, an organic carbon/total nitrogen combustion analyzer will be used. Finally, carbon mineralization will be measured by using an infrared gas analyzer, which measures CO2 respiration. All these tests will create a bigger picture of how Kudzu potentially alters soil chemical and biological properties in such a way as to support invasion.


F-22     Izzy Gonzales

Research Collaborators:  Lauren Coker

Research Presentation Title:  Evaluating the Manganese Removal Capabilities of Mushroom Compost Under Anaerobic Conditions Using Fed-Batch Reactors

Faculty Research Mentor:  Julie LaBar, Plant and Soil Science


Coal mine drainage contains heavy metals and trace metals, that when left untreated, contaminates surrounding soil and water rendering them unable to support life or maintain ecological functions, and impacts the natural environment. These metals must be removed via treatment systems in order to prevent environmental damage. Historically, two types of treatment systems have been proposed to treat mine drainage: passive treatment systems (PTS) or active treatment facilities. The latter of these options use chemicals harsh on the environment while the former option utilizes natural processes. Previous research done on PTS show that the removal of the trace metal manganese (Mn) in anaerobic systems can be unpredictable, which is why further research on Mn behavior is necessary. The objective of this research was to understand why Mn leaching occurs and in what substrate fractions it is retained in. This study utilized 1-L fed-batch reactors to create an anaerobic environment similar to the conditions found in vertical flow bioreactors (VFBR), a common unit-process in passive treatment systems. All treatments and the control contained a 1:2 ratio of liquid and spent mushroom compost. Mushroom compost is a readily available organic substrate used in vertical flow bioreactors (VFBR) to remove trace metals such as Mn from PTS; it is for these reasons it was chosen as the substrate in this experiment. This study manipulated ionic strength, to try and understand how Mn may be retained or released in the varying conditions. Water quality was observed over the course of seven weeks and organic matter was sacrificed at the end for analysis. Organic matter analysis utilized a modified Tessier sequential extraction method to obtain the location of where manganese occurred.


F-23 Maggie Shell

Research Collaborators:  Tina Johnson

Research Presentation Title:  Going Against the Grain for a Cleaner Bread Label

Faculty Research Mentor:  Brett Carver, Plant and Soil Science


In today’s world of food consciousness, consumers have become increasingly sensitive to food labels that have a “clean” and wholesome appearance. Clean label is an academic term that embraces the idea of creating a consumer friendly and trustworthy food label. This research is part of a larger long-term effort to develop bread wheat varieties adapted to Oklahoma which possess inherent dough quality with less dependence on food additives including vital wheat gluten. Thus, our end goal is to produce bread with a minimal number of preservatives befitting a clean label. A new wheat variety was developed at Oklahoma State University experimentally named OK15MASBx7 ARS 8-29 that is currently being tested by U.S. millers as a natural ingredient flour to blend with commodity-grade bread wheat flour to improve its functionality, and particularly dough strength. This experimental line carries a naturally occurring but rare glutenin subunit called Bx7oe that, in certain genetic backgrounds such as ‘Gallagher’ hard red winter wheat, has unprecedented dough strength measured as mixing tolerance. Using small-scale equipment typically adopted by wheat breeding programs, this experiment was conducted to demonstrate the effect of incremental replacements of the commodity flour with the ingredient flour. This has not yet been attempted with a high-speed 10g dough recording mixer called a mixograph. We will attempt to show quantifiable changes in specific attributes of a mixogram which signify qualitative changes in dough strength. Greater familiarity with dough attributes of high-strength genotypes such as OK15MASBx7 ARS 8-29 will facilitate the breeding process to create more varieties like it to enter the clean label marketplace. In our world, people are looking to agriculture to provide healthier and label-friendly food. It is the research we do today that will feed the generations to come. 


F-24     Beth Brandt and Zoe Hester

Research Collaborators:  Saima Shahid

Research Presentation Title:  Unraveling the role of DNA methylation in Plant-parasite communication

Faculty Research Mentor:  Saima Shahid, Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution


A fundamental question in decoding host-parasite interactions is how do organisms discriminate between self and non-self? Historically, research in this area has concentrated on dissecting the response from a single-genome perspective - either the host plant or the invading parasite. However, the complexity of plant–parasite interactions goes beyond the usual suspects of effector proteins. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that regulatory small RNAs (20 -24 nucleotides) move across species boundaries, trigger silencing of non-self genes, and play important roles in plant-parasite communication. However, there is a large gap in our understanding of the molecular events underlying the transfer and function of such interspecies regulatory small RNAs. It’s also unclear whether interspecies mobile small RNAs can direct chromatin modifications (i.e. DNA methylation) in non-self genomes and subsequently lead to epigenetic ‘memory’ of silencing genes that aid plant/parasite adaptation. This research aims to identify the role of small RNA-directed DNA methylation in host-parasitic plant interactions and use this information towards crop improvement. Findings from this research will advance knowledge of interspecies communication and facilitate manipulation of small RNA-mediated DNA methylation pathways for disrupting antagonistic host-parasite that affects crop yield.


F-25     Lane Howard

Research Presentation Title:  Ecology and Evolution of Bulb Size in Lachenalia

Faculty Research Mentor:  Cody Howard, Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution


Underground storage organs are found across many plant lineages: the corms of crocus, the stem tubers of potatoes, and the bulbs of onions. In addition to being the place for belowground bud placement, these organs are often swollen to store nutrients that can be used during periods of resource scarcity, regrowth after disturbance, and emergence at the start of the growing season. Therefore, the size of an underground storage organ may play a significant role in determining the ecological conditions in which a plant can grow, which can then influence their evolutionary trajectory. To first gain an understanding of the potential relationship between underground organ size and important morphological traits – such as leaf number and inflorescence size – we collect morphological data from taxonomic monographs for different bulbous lineages. We focus on bulbous plants (i.e., those with true bulbs, such as onions) partly because of the wealth of data available, but also because of the unique morphology that is the bulbous habit (i.e., carbohydrates and water are stored in leaf tissue). Furthermore, the multiple, independent evolutions of the bulbous habit have distinct bulb morphologies, which may result in ecological and evolutionary disparate patterns. Using bulb diameter measurements of roughly 580 species, we find that bulb size has a positive correlation with plant height and inflorescence length, but a relatively neutral correlation with leaf number. We then performed a more in-depth, phylogenetic examination of bulb size evolution across Lachenalia (Scilloideae, Asparagaceae), a lineage found predominantly within the seasonal climates of South Africa. In Lachenalia, we find that bulb size has relatively less phylogenetic signal compared to inflorescence length and leaf number, which have moderate and high phylogenetic signals, respectively. Future work will include in-depth climate and phylogenetic analyses of all the studied taxa in order to investigate if bulb size has followed similar evolutionary routes across bulbous lineages.


F-26     Lainey Kirshberger

Research Collaborators:  Steve Hallgren

Research Presentation Title:  Evaluating the practicality of incorporating de-extinction technologies into current conservation methods

Faculty Research Mentor:  Steve Hallgren, Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution


Evaluating the practicality of incorporating de-extinction technologies into current conservation methods: Conservation efforts typically focus on protecting species from extinction, but a recent rise in de-extinction programs has added a new facet to consider when designing preservation programs: should diversity loss be final if we have the technology to reverse it? Resurrection genomics, gene-editing, and rewilding are the most prevalent methods currently being applied to reversing and artificially preventing extinction, with variable rates of survival in revived organisms. Both the logistics and the ethics of these de-extinction attempts must be thoroughly evaluated, often with more overlap than one would expect, in order to construct release plans that maximize the chance of survival and take into account the ecological impacts the introduced organism will have on the receiving habitat. By analyzing scientific literature on the policy, technology, and morality behind the possibility of reintroducing locally and globally extinct species, the focus can be placed on how to effectively incorporate these new methods into traditional conservation practices to help mitigate what is often viewed as a sixth mass extinction event.


F-27     Shelby McMahan

Research Collaborators:  Elizabeth Struble, Ny Aina Rakotoarivony, Kianoosh Hassani and Benedicte Marie Philippe Bachelot

Research Presentation Title:  As Above, so Below: The Effect of Invasion on Fungal and Bacterial Communities and How Hyperspectral Imagery Can Predict Changes

Faculty Research Mentor:  Benedicte Marie Philippe Bachelot, Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution


Of all the examples across history, films, and science of a “good thing gone bad”, there is one which continues to be fought today across ecosystems: species invasion. Lespedeza cuneata “sericea”, originally introduced in the United States as a forage plant, quickly became the main “villain” of grasslands from Mexico to Canada. The same strong characteristics that caused it to be initially brought to the United States are now the same reasons it is a successful invasive species that dramatically alters grassland ecosystem functioning. With its persistence in less-than-ideal conditions, competitiveness against the native species, and swift reproduction, its detrimental effects stretch from aboveground to belowground. The web of plant communities reap the ecological consequences, such as decreasing diversity while increasing homogenization of plant and fungal composition both above and belowground. Previous studies have separately examined these negative impacts of species invasion on a small scale, impeding our abilities to scale up across highly heterogeneous ecosystems, such as tallgrass prairies. In this study, we seek to study sericea’s effects on a large scale, utilizing community ecology approaches and remote sensing. We hypothesize that 1) sericea invasion will lead to a drastic shift in the myco- and microbiome soil communities and 2) hyperspectral imagery can detect these belowground changes. To test these hypotheses, we collected plant cover data and soil samples across 100 plots at the Joseph H. William Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (OK). From these soil samples, we used phospholipid fatty acid markers to characterize the bacterial and fungal communities. Additionally, we collected hyperspectral imagery for these 100 plots. Using multivariate analyses, we will investigate how sericea invasion influences bacterial and fungal communities. Using a Mantel test, we will then test if hyperspectral data is correlated with the bacterial and fungal communities. Through understanding the extent of sericea’s effect on belowground bacterial and fungal communities while also testing the possibilities of remote sensing to detect these belowground changes, we hope to pave the way to methods to mediate the damage done by this invasive plant.


F-28     Taylor Nickles

Research Collaborators:  Mark Fishbein

Research Presentation Title:  Poisonous plants in urban settings

Faculty Research Mentor:  Mark Fishbein, Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution


Poisonous plants are found in many different regions, leading children to be exposed to these hazards. Since children are so curious they are prone to accidentally poisoning themselves by ingesting these toxic plants.  Poisonous plants are able to survive in a multitude of different environments, including wetlands, forests, and grasslands. As rural areas have started to develop more into urban settings the suitable habitat for these poisonous plants may be altered. There are two potential outcomes of urbanization for poisonous plants. They may become more common in urban areas, if they are able to colonize disturbed areas that result from development.  Or, they may become less common, if they require natural habitats that are lost through urbanization. If they become more common in urban settings, this could in turn compromise child safety. To test these hypotheses, I created a list of all the poisonous plants found in Oklahoma and narrowed the list to those poisonous specifically to humans. I then used an online herbarium database, the TORCH portal, to find the documented locations of poisonous plant species in six counties that contain the largest urban areas in Oklahoma: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cleveland, Comanche, Garfield, and Payne. Because the TORCH database contains specimens that both have or lack mappable geographical coordinates, I used a georeferencing procedure to add coordinates to specimens that did not have them to increase the number of mapped specimens in these counties. I then compared the proportion of all plant species that are poisonous between urban and rural locations in these counties. The comparison shows whether there are more or fewer poisonous plants in urban areas than expected based on their proportion in rural areas.


F-29     Elizabeth Struble

Research Collaborators:  Shelby McMahan, Kianoosh Hassani, Ny Aina Rakotoarivony, Hamed Gholizadeh and Benedicte Bachelot

Research Presentation Title:  As Above, so Below: The Effect of Invasion on Mycorrhizal Fungi and How Hyperspectral Imagery Can Predict Changes

Faculty Research Mentor:  Benedicte Bachelot, Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution


Invasive species threaten ecosystems by lowering biodiversity and degrading ecosystem services. This is true across most ecosystems but especially for tallgrass prairies. One species threatening tallgrass prairies in Oklahoma is Lespedeza cuneata or sericea. Sericea negatively affects both aboveground and belowground communities. Previous studies have shown sericea releases chemicals that negatively affect other plant’s growth and alters communities of microorganisms, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). AMF are vital to the growth of plants as they assist with water and nutrient uptake in exchange for carbon from the plants. However, there has yet to be a large-scale investigation into how sericea affects the composition and abundance of AMF. To test on a large scale, we combined hyperspectral imagery of the vegetation in the prairie along with spore extractions. Our hypothesis is split into three parts: (1) areas with high sericea invasion’s spore composition will be more homogenized when compared with low invasion areas because sericea’s tendency to monoculture, (2) the number of spores will be lower in high invasion areas due to the allelopathic nature of sericea, and (3) hyperspectral imagery will be able to detect these changes in the underground community because the change in the reflected light of aboveground vegetation is affected by the underground communities. To test this, we studied sericea invasion in the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma. Remote sensing gathered data on aboveground invasion while soil samples were collected from 100 plots. The soil samples were then run through a sieving system to extract spores. Total spore counts were analyzed using regression, and composition was analyzed using a multivariate test. To determine if remote sensing can detect changes in AMF spore composition, we ran a Mantel test. We expect that 1) the plots invaded by sericea have few spores and a less variable composition of AMF and 2) remote sensing can detect the changes in spore composition. By studying the soil microorganisms of the Tallgrass Prairie, we can learn how invasive species are altering the soil microbiome, and how we can use remote sensing to predict the effects across large scale.

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