Dr. Bertrand Eardly, Professor of Biology at Penn State Berks, has been awarded the Penn State Research Collaboration Fellowship for the summer of 2013. Eardly will collaborate with Dr. Mary Ann Bruns, Professor of Soil Sciences and Microbial Ecology at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. The title of Eardly?s project is ?The Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) microbiome in metalliferous soils of eastern Pennsylvania.?
Eardly and Bruns will study microbial populations associated with a pine tree species called the Pitch Pine. According to Eardly, this tree, which is native to Pennsylvania and the Eastern United States, is particularly well-adapted for survival on soils that contain high levels of heavy metals. Soils containing toxic levels of heavy metals are often associated with industrial barrens and abandoned mine sites. Based on previous research on a related pine species in Europe, it appears that the ability of certain pines to tolerate high metal concentrations in soils may be due in part to the beneficial effects of microbial communities associated with their roots.
Eardly and Bruns intend to use the funding from the grant to investigate whether this could help explain the ability of Pitch Pines to tolerate metalliferous soils in Eastern Pennsylvania.
The program is jointly sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) through the four Institutes, Vice Dean for Research at the College of Medicine, and the Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses (OVPCC). The program awards up to $10,000 to each of the five Fellows from the campuses.