Faculty Advisor

Kirkpatrick, Betsy

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2012


Scotch broom is a nonnative plant that has invaded the plant communities of the Pacific Northwest in the United States. It associates with bacteria in the soil to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, thereby elevating soil nitrogen levels and encouraging the invasion of the community by other nonnative plants like itself. Researchers have used sugar-amendment to decrease soil nitrogen and restore native plant growth. Our study took place in Glacial Heritage Preserve, a Puget lowland prairie that has been invaded by broom in several areas. We aimed to investigate whether sugar-amendment increased or decreased bacterial and fungal abundance in native versus broom-dominated soils of the prairie. We plan on using quantitative PCR (qPCR) to measure abundance and have currently optimized fungal primers for this purpose. During this study, we also collected data on soil nitrate to later compare with abundance data. Optimization of bacterial primers and further abundance data collection is forthcoming. Through this work, we hope to elucidate more about plant-microbial interactions and understand the effectiveness of sugar-amendment as a means of native plant restoration.


University of Puget Sound