Lynnaun Johnson PhD Candidate

Major adviser: Gregory Muller, PhD

Research Interests: Mycorrhizal Fungi, Fungal ecology, Orchid mycorrhiza

Current Research:

Most plants form obligate relationships with symbiotic fungi termed mycorrhiza. Orchids are the largest group of flowering plants and require fungi for germination in nature.  As adults, they form a specific type of mycorrhiza and rely on the fungus to acquire additional nutrients. My research focuses on fungal ecology, in particular, the interactions between mycorrhizal fungi and orchids. My current research includes the investigation of leafless epiphytic orchids of south Florida. I am doing research at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge that focuses on the rare and endangered epiphytic orchid Dendrophylax lindenii (the ghost orchid).

Lynnaun in field

My previous research investigated the mycorrhizal fungi associated with Vanilla planifolia, an economically valuable crop with pods responsible for the flavor vanilla. Vanilla planifolia is hemiepiphytic with both epiphytic and terrestrial roots. My field sites are at V. planifolia plantations in Mexico. The objectives of my research are to: 1) elucidate the microbiome of V. planifolia epiphytic and terrestrial roots; and 2) characterize how various farming practices (wild natural, traditional and highly managed) influence mycorrhizal communities found in the roots of V. planifolia.

Lynnaun in field

Honors and Awards

2016 Catherine Beattie Fellowship, Garden Club of America          

2016 Illinois Mycological Association Scholarship

2016 Mentor Student Travel Award, Mycological Society of America Conference

2016 Plant Biology and Conservation Travel Award, Northwestern University

2015 Plant Biology and Conservation Travel Award, Northwestern University

2014 Plant Biology and Conservation Travel Award, Northwestern University

2014 Plant Biology and Conservation Research Award, Northwestern University