The grant was awarded from the US Department of Defense – Strategic Environmental Research and
Development Program (2013-2018) for the project: Restoration of soil microbial function following
degradation on DoD lands: Mediating biological invasions in a global change context.
Global environmental change includes simultaneous stresses to ecosystems, including
climate, pollution, and invasion by toxic, nonnative organisms. Especially sensitive to
these changes are the soil fungi, which play a critical role in ecosystem function and
native tree growth. This research will employ cutting-edge high throughput gene
sequencing approaches and a global change simulation experiment, to test whether and
how well soil fungi can be restored after invasion by the toxic nonnative plant, Alliaria
petiolata, under predicted scenarios of global change in Massachusetts. This work will
advance fundamental ecological research on fungal-mediated responses of key
Northeastern tree species to global change, and will help land managers optimize the
chances of ecosystem restoration under a suite of ongoing environmental stresses.