Mentor: Dr. Ben Sikes
While fire is known to have significant effects on the vegetation and ecosystem processes of pine savannas, its effects on soil fungal communities remain unexplored. Because the functions of these microbes may have important implications for future fires, it is critical to understand how burning affects fungal mortality. We developed a new DNA-based method for quantifying fungal abundance using Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) to determine how different fire regimes affect fungal mortality. Findings from this research provide important insights into our understanding of the succession patterns in fungal communities under repeated fire disturbance that can be applied to sites affected by fire around the globe.