An Ecologist at DePaul University receives an NSF CAREER grant for studying the dispersal of mycorrhizal fungi

An environmental scientist, Bala Chaudhary, at the DePaul University has explained that the Mycorrhizal fungi are one of the most beneficial and common fungi for plants that mine the nutrients in the soil and then deliver them to the plants by trading sugar.

“Environmental factors and dispersal determine microbial community structure, but little is known about how microbes disperse long distances,” she commented.

Bala Chaudhary serves as the assistant professor at DePaul University teaching environmental science. He is currently occupied with the deep observation of dispersal mechanisms of mycorrhizal fungi with support provided by the National Science Foundation. Bala has recently received the grant of Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) which is the most prestigious award of NSF given as a support to early-career faculty that possess the potential of serving as an academic role model in the field of education and research and also for leading advancement in the goal of their organization or department. The 715,000 dollars grant given for 5 years for the research will provide support to a project that is multifaceted and combines the trait-based ecology, physical laws, and macroecology for studying the mycorrhizal fungi dispersal.

“The microbial communities that associate with plants can have large implications for agriculture, forestry and ecosystems. We know that environmental factors and dispersal determine microbial community structure, but little is known about how microbes disperse long distances,” explained Chaudhary.

“For nearly 100 years, the ‘everything is everywhere’ hypothesis has dominated microbial ecology, suggesting that microbial dispersal is unlimited and community assembly mechanisms are primarily deterministic,” noted Chaudhary. “However, certain fungi vary with respect to traits that could impact their long-distance dispersal capabilities. Coupling knowledge of traits with physical laws that govern movement could provide a powerful framework to predict dispersal, a key component of biogeography.”