Date of Award

Summer 8-2-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)



Major Professor

Sigurdur Greipsson

First Committee Member

Thomas McElroy

Second Committee Member

Troy Mutchler

Third Committee Member

Daniel Ferreira


Coastal sand dunes are fragile ecosystems that serve as natural defenses to protect the adjacent mainland by absorbing the impacts and energy from severe storms. Different efforts have been taken to restore coastal sand dunes, focusing on foredunes. However, there are many strategies involved with coastal restoration and one superior technique has not been found to be the best. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) supply a range of limiting nutrients (N, P, Fe, and Zn) to the host plant while improving dune stability. This study aimed to assess and compare the diversity of the indigenous AMF community associated with sea oats at Jekyll and Tybee Islands on Georgia’s coast. This study analyzed the difference between natural and restored dunes concerning AMF assemblages and the chemical content of the soil and sea oat leaves.

On each site, samples were collected by minimum disturbance from dune ridges that were randomly selected where sea oats were present. Whole genomic DNA was extracted from soil and sea oats roots and were sent out to be replicated. Soil and leaf samples were taken and was sent to be chemically analyzed.

A total of thirteen AMF species were identified, and seven of the thirteen species were identifiable at the species level. The remainder was left as unclassified. The most abundant genera were Glomus, and the most abundant species were unclassified Glomus species, followed by Glomus custos and Glomus deserticola. The findings from this study imply that there are potentially undescribed taxa of AMF waiting to be discovered.