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Robert Burnett - PLant Ecology

University of Maryland, College Park

Tipularia discolor and Mycorrhizal Fungi: A Look into Early
and Middle Life
History Relationships

I spent the summer in the Plant Ecology Lab here at SERC looking into orchid-mycorrhizal relationships of species native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  During the first few weeks, we collected a large number of orchid seed packets and soil samples from sites around the SERC forests where there have been two ongoing experiments.  I examined individual seed packets for germination, presence of protocorms (baby orchids), and seed viability.  The bulk of my summer was spent in the lab running and optimizing PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), testing new primers, and sequencing.  The seed packet data was correlated to molecular analysis on protocorms, soil samples, and adult root tips.  Using brand new primers developed specifically for an unnamed fungus that associates with Tipularia discolor protocorms, I was able to gather much useful information on the relationship between the orchids, woody debris, and the presence of this mysterious fungus.
I have three more semesters remaining in the undergraduate Environmental Science & Policy program at the University of Maryland-College Park.  I am currently open to variety of possibilities after graduation.

Quote:   “Expert guidance and mentorship coupled with the freedom to satisfy my curiosities through experimentation and careful observation made my 2006 summer internship at SERC a stimulating and unforgettable learning experience.”