Kris finished his MS in 2006 at SUNY-ESF in the faculty of Environmental and Foresty Biology. His thesis focused on the ectomycorrhizal ecology of the American chestnut using both field and laboratory bioassay approaches. In the field experiment he found most fungi (>50 species) colonizing chestnut seedlings were also colonizing red oak roots. The dominant mycorrhizal types in the field experiment were russuloid and thelephoroid species, as well as Cenococcum geophilum. In the lab experiment he collected soils from the same sites and grew chestnut for one year. He found fewer fungi colonizing lab seedlings compared to the field, dominated by Cenococcum geophilum and species of Laccaria and Tuber. This information should prove useful for the restoration of chestnut.
Kris' MS abstract:
The mycorrhizal associations of American chestnut (AC) (Castanea dentata) are largely unknown. We used AC seedlings as bait trees in a field and laboratory setting to capture ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal associates from three red oak stands on central New York. The field seedlings were harvested with intermingling roots of established trees using a soil corer, and laboratory seedlings were grown in soil collected from the same forested sites. EM fungi were identified using molecular techniques. Field AC seedlings shared many of the same EM fungi as established trees and often within the same soil sample. Field seedlings are likely benefiting from EM fungi supported by nonconspecific established trees. Laboratory seedlings were inoculated with EM fungi from resistant propagules of the field soils. Overall, red oak stands provide ample ectomycorrhizal fungal inoculum for the establishment of American chestnut, and thus are potentially useful plant communities in which to direct restoration efforts.