2013 Student Research Conference:
26th Annual Student Research Conference

The Composition of Microfungal Communities Inhabiting the Flowers of Meads Milkweed (Asclepias meadii), an Endangered Prairie Inhabitant
Charles R. Heinzmann
Dr. Elisabeth A. Hooper and Dr. Jose Herrera, Faculty Mentors

Meads Milkweed (Asclepias meadii) is an endangered prairie species native to the American Midwest. One hypothesis for its decline is that pathogenic fungi within flowers negatively affect reproduction. To test this, microfungal communities in flowers of 20 plants from two populations in Missouri and Kansas were analyzed. Floral tissue was placed directly on nutrient agar to cultivate fungi, and taxonomic molecular identification based on the fungal internal transcribed spacer region was conducted. These data were used to assess species composition and richness of microfungal communities in flowers. The most common fungi present were yeasts, which are not thought to be harmful, and the second most common were members of the Alternaria alternata complex, which can be pathogenic. Other fungi present, but rare, were Thanatephorus spp. and Aspergillus versicolor. Overall, the presence of potentially harmful fungal inhabitants was low; thus, our data do not suggest the decline of Meads Milkweed is due to pathogenic fungi in flowers.

Keywords: Mead's Milkweed, Asclepias meadii, Alternaria alternata, Thanatephorus spp., Aspergillus versicolor, Internal Transcribed Spacer

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 310-2
Location: MG 2001
Time: 1:15

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