Staff Profile
Melissa McCormick in the field with Calopogon orchids


Research Interests: The unifying theme behind my research is using molecular techniques to elucidate questions about plant ecology. I primarily study the interactions of plants with their mycorrhizal fungi and the environment and how these interactions affect plant distribution and ecology.

I currently have ongoing projects on orchid ecology and conservation, mycorrhizal interactions, plant invasion ecology, and plant responses to anthropogenic changes.

My ongoing projects spread across three focal areas. I am using population genetics to trace the spread of invasive Phragmites australis and to understand the impacts of eutrophication on Spartina alterniflora. In these projects we (my collaborators and I) are using patterns of genetic variation to understand the processes that drive species responses. I also have ongoing projects on orchid ecology in which I am examining the effects of environmental conditions, natural hybridization, and the abundance and distribution of mycorrhizal fungi as drivers of orchid flowering and distribution. A third focal area for my research is trying to understand how genes that are expressed and bacteria that live within the hyphae of orchid mycorrhizal fungi affect fungal ability to form mycorrhizae.