Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Entomology and Plant Pathology

Major Professor

Denita Hadziabdic Guerry

Committee Members

Melissa Cregger, Jennifer DeBruyn, William Klingeman, Emma Willcox


Prescribed fire is a critical management tool that influences forest physical structure and biological composition in the southeastern United States. Management via prescribed burning reduces fuel accumulation and the probability of wildfire, recycles nutrients to soil, and minimizes the spread of insect pests and diseases. How prescribed fire can effect the microbiome of regionally native Cornus florida, which is economically and ecologically valued, is not well understood. The objective of this study was to evaluate shifts in fungal and bacterial communities of C. florida in five different habitats that occur following a prescribed fire event. Bacterial and fungal communities across five niches from 20 C. florida trees were characterized using 16S and ITS2 rRNA gene analyses. Prior to burn application, the majority of bacterial sequences from soil and bark habitats of C. florida were identified as Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Actinobacteria phyla. Additionally, the observed species richness in burned and unburned plot habitats did not differ before the application of fire treatment. Six-month post fire analyses are expected to reveal how the C. florida microbiome has responded to fire. Results will provide novel information regarding microbial community members that are better adapted to during- and post-fire conditions and can help predict the consequences of unplanned fire events that may introduce long-term health effects to plant hosts like C. florida.

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