Posts Tagged ‘simone whitecloud’

Hopefully our blog imparts the sense of urgency that comes with field season. Time is limited, and a lot of effort and funds go toward maximizing the success of a project. The last thing a researcher wants this time of year is to be stuck at a desk trying to iron out details of a new method. Yet here I sit for the fourth day scanning papers, emailing and telephoning experts in an effort to determine how to process the 25 root samples I have waiting in the refrigerator. These roots are from plants in the order that contains the heath family (Ericales), which means they have a symbiotic relationship with underground fungi called mycorrhizae. I want to know which species of mycorrhizae are growing on the roots, and what percent of the roots are colonized by the fungi. The details I’ve gleaned so far are that the roots must be processed within 10 days (they are now 5 days old), and that of all the possible mycorrhizal fungi to study, these are the most difficult to handle and isolate. One expert encouraged me to switch to a different system to avoid the challenge entirely! Sadly, that is not an option, so I plunge further into the cutting edge of mycorrhizae study, with the knowledge that the primary reason there are so many great unanswered questions is because of the effort required to develop techniques to study these mycorrhizae, not because no one has thought of them yet.

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