Catherine (Kitty) Gehring



Phone: 928-523-9158 office; 523-9138 lab
Office: Building 21, Room 307  Lab:  Building 17, Room 303-308

More info: Laboratory web site

Research/teaching interests

  • plant and fungal ecology
  • The goal of my research program is to better understand the functioning of fungi in natural and managed systems.  One way that members of my lab group and I work towards this goal is to examine how abiotic and biotic factors interact to affect the abundance and community composition of plant-associated fungi and how changes in these parameters then feedback to affect the performance of host plants. We combine field and laboratory experiments with microscopic and molecular analysis of fungal communities.  Current projects explore how host plant genetics influences fungal abundance and diversity, the impact of climate change on interactions between host plants, fungi and insects, and the belowground mechanisms by which invasive plants may harm native plants.  We also have an interest in tropical systems where we have examined interactions among vertebrates, plants and mycorrhizal fungi in addition to other issues.

This faculty member is also a mentor in the NSF IGERT graduate training program: NAU’s IGERT PhD program seeks to identify key links between genes and the environment and is designed to train exceptional graduate students in molecular genetics, environmental sciences, and spatio-temporal modeling.

Teaching.  I regularly teach Ecology, Mycology, Principles of Biology, and a seminar on Responsible Conduct of Research.  I also participate in a team-taught course on Genes to Environment Research and occasionally offer a course on the Biology of Invasive Species.

Academic highlights

  • Research fellow: Australian National University, 1995-1998
  • Post-doctoral training: Northern Arizona University, 1992-1995
  • PhD: Northern Arizona University, 1991

Selected recent publications

Meinhardt, K.A., and C. A. Gehring.  Disrupting mycorrhizal mutualisms: a potential mechanism by which exotic tamarisk outcompetes native cottonwoods.  ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS, in press.

Theimer, T.C., C. A. Gehring, P.T. Green and J.H. Connell.  2011.  Terrestrial vertebrates alter seedling composition and richness but not diversity in an Australian tropical rain forest.  ECOLOGY 92(8):1637-1647

Lamit, L. J., M. A. Bowker, L. M. Holeski, R. Reese Næsborg, S. C. Wooley, M. Zinkgraf, T. G. Whitham, R. L. Lindroth, and C. A. Gehring. 2011.  Genetically-based trait variation within a foundation tree species influences a dominant bark lichen.  FUNGAL ECOLOGY 4:103-109. 

Hoeksema, J.D., Chaudhary, V.B., Gehring, C., Johnson, N.C., Karst, J., Koide, R., Pringle, A., Zabinski, C., Bever, J.D., Moore, J., Wilson, G., Klironomos, J. and Umbanhowar, J.  2010.  A meta-analysis of context-dependency in plant response to inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi.  ECOLOGY LETTERS 13:394-407. 

Sthultz, C.M., Whitham, T.G., Kennedy, K.J, Deckert, R. and C. A. Gehring. 2009. Genetically-based susceptibility to herbivory influences the ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of a foundation tree species.  NEW PHYTOLOGIST 184:657-667.