Marine Fungal EndophytesMarine Fungal Endophytes

Fungi are far more interesting than just your typical mushrooms. Fungi form all sorts of symbiotic relationships with other species. Some fungi live inside of plants and produce chemical compounds that keep other microbes away. Some of these compounds have such strong antimicrobial activity that they can be useful for humans. A lot of work has been done with the fungal endophytes in terrestrial plants, but much less is known about marine species. Along with colleague Dr. Ellen Batchelder, I have been examining the endophytic fungi in seaweeds. We have been culturing some of these endophytes for identification (both morphologically and with DNA) and also extracting their secondary metabolites to assay for antimicrobial activity.

Rockweed

Ascophyllum nodosum (aka, rockweed) harvesting

Ascophyllum nodosum is an intertidal macralga that is harvested commercially in Maine. Environmental groups, state agencies, and seaweed harvesters all have an interest in ensuring that harvesting methods are sustainable for not only the seaweed, but the species that utilize it. I have been involved in a few research projects examining the impacts of harvesting, both to A. nodosum and to the invertebrates that live under its cover. In one study I learned that harvesting appears to not significantly alter the sediment structure beneath its canopy nor the invertebrate populations within those sediments. I am currently involved in a project to monitor the long term effects on A. nodosum growth from cutting. Students from the Marine Biology club and the Marine Botany class have helped with this project.