DAVID BURKE, PHD
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology
My primary research interest as an ecologist has been the interaction between plants and soil microorganisms; especially mutualistic and associative soil organisms in the root zone such as mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhiza can affect plant community composition by altering plant growth and physiology, and they can also influence soil microbes responsible for biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and phosphorous in natural systems. Consequently, they may be key organisms in many communities, and a better understanding of how they interact with plants and other soil microbes is necessary for the future sound management of natural ecosystems. Relatively little work has been done on how mycorrhiza affect soil microbes, but microbial ecology has blossomed in recent years with the advent of molecular techniques that permit examination of microbial communities in situ. It is an exciting time to be conducting rhizosphere research as new advances in microbial techniques will allow us greater insight into effects of both plants and mycorrhiza on microbial diversity and function. My research efforts are an attempt to add to our knowledge of rhizosphere ecology and to understand the role of mycorrhiza in natural systems.
Key Words: Rhizosphere Ecology, Plant-microbe Interactions, Molecular Microbial Ecology, and Plant Ecology
Last Updated 12/02/2008