Colin Averill completed an undergraduate degree in Biology at Boston University, Boston MA USA, and a PhD in Ecology, Evolution and behavior at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. During his graduate career he was awarded a U.S. National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, and multiple outstanding publication awards for the Ecological Society of America for his contributions to soil ecology and biogeochemistry. He currently holds a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate and Global Change postdoctoral fellowship to study how mycorrhizal fungi mediate carbon climate interactions from molecular to global scales.
Nearly all trees are in symbiosis with microscopic fungi on their roots, trading plant sugars for fungal acquired nutrients. New research suggests these fungi can connect trees, even of different species, allowing plants to work together to overcome ecological stresses. Yet, different classes of mycorrhizal fungi can also mediate competition among entire forest types. We will discuss how these fungi can mediate both positive and negative interactions among trees, as well as how pollution environmental change is altering the composition of forests all over the world by affecting the forest fungal microbiome.