Current Research Areas

Gehring Lab research combines field and laboratory experiments 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 in turn influence host plant performance. Examining the effects of drought on pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) and its associated ectomycorrhizal fungi has been the primary focus of this lab's research efforts since its inception. The Gehring Lab is also part of a much larger effort to examine the genetic basis for the community and ecosystem ecology of cottonwood trees, a critically important riparian species. Studies in this area examine the diversity and community composition of arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, and endophytic fungi within and between species of hybridizing cottonwoods. More recently, our research has dealt with invasive tamarisk trees and how they may alter mycorrhizal mutualisms. 

Current projects

1. Collaborative Research: Landscape genetic connectivity of a foundation tree species: implications for dependent communities facing climate change and exotic species invasion

2. Climate change as an agent of selection that alters fundamental interactions among a foundation tree species and its herbivore, mutualist and competitor communities

3. Role of the soil microbial community in sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) seedling establishment in cheatgrass-invaded habitats

4. Collaborative Research: Effects of genetic diversity, epigenetic change, and root-associated fungal colonization on trait variation in the foundation plant Spartina alterniflora