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About Thomas L. Bultman

My area of interest broadly spans arthropod ecology with particular interest in plant-fungus-insect interactions. Much of the work by students and myself has focussed on fungal endophytes (Clavicipitaceae) that infect the shoots of grasses. Neotyphodium coenophialum, an endophytic, asexually-reproducing fungus of the forage grass, tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum), protects its host from some herbivores through production of alkaloids. These fungi are important both ecologically due to their prevalence in most C3 grasses and economically due to their occurrence in widely-used forage and turf grasses. Experiments conducted in our laboratory have shown that N. coenophialum mediates reversal of wound-induced susceptible and that resistance to insects varies with environmental factors, like drought and fungal genotype. Students in my lab are currently investigating fungi infecting native grasses to see if they provide similar benefits to their hosts. Another line of investigation has involved beneficial insects that parasitize pests. A third line of work involves sexual forms of grass endophytes (Epichloë spp.) which infect several native species where they cause “choke” symptoms in which the grass fails to flower. Epichloë species are self-incompatible fungi. Flies of the genus Botanophila (Anthomyiidae) act as vectors of fungal spores by ingesting and defecating them onto the fungal fruiting body after oviposition. Students have conducted genetic analyses of both fungi and flies collected from experimental field sites in Switzerland to determine the specificity of the insects as they select fungi for egg laying and feeding.

Positions

Present Faculty Member, Hope College
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Botanophila-Epichloe Interactions (1)

No Subject Area (4)