Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

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Amy R. Tuininga

Amy R. Tuininga
Fungal Ecology

Department of Biological Sciences
Fordham University
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458
Louis Calder Center
53 Whippoorwill Rd., Box K
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone: 914-273-3078, ext. 13
Fax: 914-273-2167
BS, University of Washington 1991
MS, Oregon State 1996

PhD, Rutgers 2000
Research Interests

The general theme of research in my lab is how disturbance through natural perturbations and anthropogenic effects changes structure of communities and how this ultimately affects ecosystem function. Types of disturbance that we have studied include fire, atmospheric N deposition, climate change, and invasive species.

One of the groups of organisms that we assess the community responses of is ectomycorrhizae. Ectomycorrhizal fungi play an important role in ecosystems through the uptake and translocation of nutrients, which may enhance ecosystem stability. It has been shown that ectomycorrhizae not only take up and transfer inorganic nutrients from soils to plants and between plants, but that they also aid in transfer of carbon between different plant species by forming a multi-taxa web that functions to connect organisms belowground. The fungal mutualists benefit the plant hosts in many other ways, including disease and drought resistance.

From our studies on fire, we have identified patterns of species richness that indicate that ectomycorrhizal diversity is inversely related to their function of nutrient uptake in the field at intermediate frequencies of disturbance and intermediate time since fire. This makes sense since the uptake function performed by mycorrhizae would be low when nutrients are made available by fire, but many species could co-exist. When nutrients are limiting, however, few mycorrhizal species would compete strongly to perform increased uptake. If fire is too frequent, plant biomass is decreased.We are continuing to examine relationships between understory and overstory plants in response to nutrient pulses following fire. We are also interested in interactions between ericoid and ectomycorrhizae in their mediation of nutrient uptake.

Results from our nitrogen deposition studies have been used to identify potential indicator species of this perturbation. We have also found that the oligotrophic pine barrens systems studied are very sensitive to low levels of N deposition. So we are now comparing responses of oligotrophic systems to those of mesotrophic systems. We hope to determine how broadly these patterns of sensitivity exist across soil types and across types of ecosystems.

Methods used to identify microbial organisms include microscopic and molecular methods along with sterile cultures. We measure pools of nutrients and rates of ecosystem processes such as decomposition and nutrient uptake. The aim of collecting this information is to identify indicator species that affect changes in ecosystem function following disturbance so that we can predict how ecosystems will respond to multiple stressors and to future impacts. We also hope to use the information in an applied way to help policymakers and land managers to set standards for regulation of emissions, for instance, or for putting together integrated management plans.

A recent addition to the work we conduct is study of the ecology of entomopathogenic fungi that kill ticks, particularly black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis, formerly known as the deer tick). We have been investigating environmental conditions that affect infection and mortality rates of the ticks. We are designing primers specific to suspected entomopathogenic species, but are also conducting surveys of fungi present in soils, on ticks and infecting ticks. We hope to identify fungal species and the natural conditions under which they control tick populations. Manipulative studies to confirm these conditions are also underway. Results may be used to develop biocontrol agents to regulate the disease bearing ticks.


Comas, L.H., A.R. Tuininga, H.S. Callahan. 2010. Advancing our current understanding of plant-fungal symbioses: bridging scales from local to global. New Phytologist 185:871-873.

Parrent, J.L., K.G. Peay, A.E. Arnold, L.H. Comas, P. Avis, A.R. Tuininga. 2010. Moving from pattern to process in fungal symbioses: linking functional traits, community ecology, and phylogenetics. New Phytologist 185:882-886.

Greengarten, P.J., A.R. Tuininga, S.U. Morath, R.C. Falco, H. Norelus, T.J. Daniels. (Accepted) Occurrence of s,oil- and tick-borne fungi and related virulence tests for pathogenicity to Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Medical Entomology.

Avolio, M.L., A.R. Tuininga, J.D. Lewis, M. Marchese. 2009. Ectomycorrhizal responses to organic and inorganic nitrogen sources when associating with two host species. Mycological Research 113:897-907.

Tuininga, A.R., Miller, J.L., Morath, S.U., Daniels, T.J., Falco, R.C., Marchese, M.M., Sahabi, S., Rosa, D., Stafford, K.C., III. 2009. Isolation of entomopathogenic fungi from soils and Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks: prevalence and methods. Journal of Medical Entomology 46:557-565.

Lewis, J.D., J. Licitra, A.R. Tuininga, A. Sirulnik, G. Turner, J. Johnson. 2008. Oak seedling growth and ectomycorrhizal colonization are less in eastern hemlock stands infested with hemlock woolly adelgid than in adjacent oak stands. Tree Physiology 28:629-636.

Tuininga, A. R. 2005. Interspecific Interaction Terminology: From Mycology to General Ecology. Chpt. 13 in: The Fungal Community, 3rd ed. Dighton, J., Oudemans, P. and J. White (eds.) CRC Press, New York.

Tuininga, A. R., and Dighton, J. 2004. Changes in ectomychorrhizal communities and nutrient availability following prescribed burns in two upland pine-oak forests in the New Jersey pine barrens. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 34:1755-1765.

Dighton, J., Tuininga, A. R., Gray, D. M., Huskins, R. E., and Belton, T. 2004. Impacts of atmospheric deposition on New Jersey pine barrens forest soils and communities of ectomycorrhizae. Forest Ecology and Management 201:131-144.

Tuininga, A. R., Dighton, J., and Gray, D. M. 2002. Burning, watering, litter quality and time effects on N, P, and K uptake by pitch pine (Pinus rigida) seedlings in a greenhouse study. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 34:865-873.

Rygiewicz, Paul T., Martin, Kendall J., and Tuininga, Amy R. 2000. Morphotype community structure of ectomycorrhizas on Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii Mirb. Franco) seedlings grown under elevated atmospheric CO2 and temperature. Oecologia 124:299-308

Rygiewicz, P. T., Martin, K. J., and Tuininga, A. R. 1997. Global climate change and diversity of mycorrhizae. In: Progress in microbial ecology. M. T. Martins, M. I. Z. Sato, J. M. Tiedje, L. C. N. Hagler, J. Dobereiner, and P. S. Sanchez (eds.). International Committee on Microbial Ecology/Brazilian Society for Microbiology. Soc. Brasileira de Microbiologia. Cidade Universitaria - USP. Sa o Paulo - SP Brazil. pp. 91-98.

Kerwin, James L., Tuininga, Amy R., Weins, Allison M., Wang, Jennifer C., Torvik, Jessica J., Conrath, Misty L., and MacKichan, Joanna K. 1995. Isoprenoid-mediated changes in the glycerophospholipid molecular species of the sterol auxotrophic fungus Lagenidium giganteum. Microbiology. 141:399-410.

Kerwin, James L., Tuininga, Amy R., and Ericson, Lowell. 1994. Identification of molecular species of phospholipids using electrospray mass spectrometry. Journal of Lipid Research 35:1102-114.

MacKichan, Joanna K., Tuininga, Amy R., andKerwin, James L. 1994. Preliminary characterization of phospholipase A2 in Lagenidium giganteum. Experimental Mycology 18:180-192.

Kerwin, James L., Johnson, Lisa M., Whisler, Howard C., and Tuininga, Amy R. 1992. Infection and morphogenesis of Pythium marinum in species of Porphyra and other red algae. Canadian Journal of Botany 70: 1017-1024.

Selected Awards

Undergraduate Teaching Award in the Natural and Life Sciences, Fordham University, 2009.
Rutgers University Graduate School Travel Grant, Rutgers University, 1998 & 1999.
Mycological Society of America Graduate Student Fellowship, 1997
College of Agricultural Sciences Registry of Distinguished Students, 1995
Mycological Society of America Best Poster Award, 1995
National Network for Environmental Management Studies Fellowship, 1995
Oregon State Scholarship, 1994
EPA Training Grant, 1993
Botanical Society of America Young Botanist Award, 1991

Professional Society Memberships

Ecological Society of America, 1999-present
Mycological Society of America, 1994 - present
North American Mycological Association, 1997-present
New Jersey Mycological Association, 1996 - present


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