Graduate Student


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Honorable Mention

Creation Date

Spring 2023


Charismatic meadows of tall grasses dotted with showy sunflowers and concealed rare species are what give Illinois its nickname, “The Prairie State.” My research explores the relationship between an inconspicuous prairie plant, Pale-spiked Lobelia, and microbial communities in the soil. We know that past environmental conditions and former residential plant species determine the richness of today’s species and abundance of bacteria and fungi that comprise microbial communities. Microbial communities can be beneficial or detrimental to plants and can determine plant communities. I found that there are no strong signs of local adaptations in Lobelia; there is no microbial home-field advantage. Instead, the growth of Lobelia is determined by the history and attributes of the microbial community itself. We can use this research to inform restorations that are tailored to prairie species that have a hard time establishing in degraded landscapes, or regions of refugee from climate change.