9:00 am - 10:00 am
Event details: A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.
This is an ALES PhD Final Exam Seminar by James Franklin. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.
PhD with Drs. Justine Karst and Pedro Antunes.
Thesis Topic: Exploring how soil fungi can be used to restore native trees on reclaimed substrates containing petroleum hydrocarbons
Bitumen mining in the boreal forest of western Canada is a major disturbance requiring forest reclamation campaigns. However, residual hydrocarbons (i.e., lean oil sands; LOS) in reclaimed landforms can interfere with the establishing native vegetation through mechanisms that are poorly understood. I investigated the effect of LOS on plant and fungal growth and whether soil fungi can increase seedling performance in presence of LOS. I found that: 1) plant growth can be reduced even when low amounts of LOS are present; 2) soil inoculum obtained from a LOS-free reference sites can improve tree seedling growth in substrates containing LOS; however, the effect varies by plant species and inoculum source; 3) fungal responses to LOS are species specific. Overall, my thesis indicates that using specific fungal inoculants and preventing LOS from interfering with the roots of establishing vegetation can improve land reclamation outcomes after bitumen extraction.