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Master’s Thesis Defense

This is a past event.

Thursday, July 1, 2021 at 10:00am to 12:00pm

Virtual Event

Presenting: Ellen Garcia

Topic: Conservation of South Florida Orchid Mycorrhizal Fungi

Abstract: Starting in the late 1800’s orchids were heavily poached, leaving many species to reach critically low numbers. Coupled with habitat loss and urbanization many orchid populations were extirpated in southern Florida. Due to lack of endosperm, orchid’s seeds are reliant on specific mycorrhizal fungi to obtain nutrients to enable growth and development resulting in very low germination rates in nature. The obligate relationship on mycorrhizal fungi complicates orchid re-establishment. The research project aims are (1) to evaluate the correlation between phenotypic traits and optimal growing conditions in various micro-climate, and (2) to assess the range of mycorrhizal fungi community in urban and botanic garden settings. The native orchid Encyclia tampensis, was sampled from naturally occurring and lab propagated orchids at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), Naples Botanical Garden (NBG) and Downtown Doral Park (DDP) on oak, cypress, and palm trees. Phenotypic measurements (host tree, chlorophyll content, light intensity, height on the tree, number of leaves, root and shoot lengths) and root fungi sampling (fungal isolations, DNA identification) were conducted. Increased SPAD and NDVI values measuring chlorophyll content as a plant health parameter were observed at FTBG, while DDP and NBG had comparable values indicating the suitability of botanic gardens and urban spaces as orchid reintroduction sites. Across all 3 sites and host trees, the beneficial fungi Tulasnella was recovered within two distinct clades. The results of this study will help maximize current conservation and reintroduction programs in orchids within urban areas and botanical ardens for best management practices

Dial-In Information

Place: Zoom

Meeting ID: 979 9851 1569

Event Type

Academics, Lectures & conferences


Faculty & Staff



College of Arts, Sciences & Education, Department of Earth and Environment


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