Jacquelyn K. Amaya, Abigail G. Carter, Madelaine Claire Gregory, Alexander W. Owens


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Mycorrhizal fungi are a naturally occurring beneficial root fungus. Over ninety percent of all vascular land plants live in association with this fungus ( This mutualistic relationship is vital for both the plant and the fungus, due to the exchange of sugars and fixed carbons in return for water and nutrients. An important new use of land for both native plant expansion and clean energy production is solar prairies. Solar prairies are protected zones of native prairie plants that also collect energy through the use of rows of solar panels. While a source of clean energy and a haven for these natural species, the solar panels erected on these prairies create shadowed areas. Our research team aims to study the potential effects of this shading on mycorrhizal fungi colonization in the University of Dayton’s Solar Prairie. A total of 10 soil samples with 3 replicates at each sample were collected to test for colonization of mycorrhizal fungi for each area of the prairie with possible varying light availability. These three areas include a buffer which is an important area of a solar prairie due to the absence of panel shading and full light exposure, an area between panels with partial shading, and an area under panels with almost full shading of the understory. We evaluated colonization in plant roots by extracting roots from the soil in petri dishes with ethanol and recording total roots and amount of roots with mycorrhizal fungi. Data was analyzed to find the variance and percentage of mycorrhizal establishment for each measurement location. Our research group found that colonization of Mycorrhizal Fungi decreased with the distance from the buffer, with the buffer indicating the highest colonization. These results are important for future solar prairie planning, with an emphasis on larger buffer zones.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project 202380 BIO 479L M1

Primary Advisor

Chelse M. Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Practical Wisdom; Critical Evaluation of Our Times; Scholarship

Buffer Areas Are Critical Reservoirs for Mycorrhizal Fungi Colonization in Solar Prairies