Forest in a dish
How do bacteria and fungi—both of which decompose wood and leaves—interact in the forest? Sam Willard, a senior studying plant and microbial biology, aims to find out.
Willard and Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories director Jonathan Schilling collected samples of more than 20 fungi and placed them in petri dishes with bacteria to assess how they break down organic matter.
“By simulating the wood-degrading environment in the lab, we can begin to understand the role these microbes play in the decomposition of wood in boreal forests,” says Willard, a Bentson Family Scholarship recipient.