Competitive Graduate Student Assistantship Program

Pecan mycorrhizal fungi in New Mexico

Principal Investigators: Nicole Pietrasiak, Plant and Environmental Sciences
Co-PIs: Richard Heerema, Extension Plant Sciences; Jennifer Randall, Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Weed Science

Project Summary:
Pecans are an important crop in New Mexico annually contributing $170 million to the state’s agricultural economy. Pecan farming in desert areas can be costly due to inefficient nutrient and water acquisition by the trees. Beneficial soil microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi, can enhance plant growth and health but to date there is virtually no baseline information on NM mycorrhizae available. The objective of our project is to characterize NM pecan mycorrhizal fungi. Identifying mycorrhizal species that are adapted to NM’s environment may allow pecan growers to potentially increase nutrient and water acquisition in their orchards Ultimately, this may result in lower input costs, lower environmental impacts, and improved water use efficiency.