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Alexandra Locher


Invasive insects like hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) may compromise belowground functionality of infested hosts. Studies show that HWA affects belowground functionality of hemlocks by reducing ectomycorrhizal fungal associations (ECM). ECM benefit hemlock hosts by expanding the root system and increasing resource uptake. Defoliation from HWA herbivory halts photosynthate production, reducing ECM food supplies. To combat this, forest managers treat with the insecticide imidacloprid. Limited research exists on how imidacloprid may affect ECM colonies. This study aims to determine if imidacloprid affects ECM colonies. PCR amplification and Sanger sequencing will be used to compare the ECM community structure of treated hemlock trees, untreated healthy trees, and untreated infested trees. Results will reveal whether fungal communities diminish in the presence of imidacloprid treatments. We hypothesized that ECM colonies decline around imidacloprid-treated hemlocks.

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