Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Invasive species are becoming an increasing problem throughout the world. Their effect on local ecosystems is detrimental and widespread, harming productive efforts such as biomass accumulation, forcing native species (plant, animals, microbes) out, and ultimately, reducing biodiversity. Investigations of how invasive plants spread are widely studied; however, there has been little to no examination of how native plants influence the microbiome in the surrounding soil. In this study, I performed a fungal and bacterial metagenomic analysis of the soil and root microbiomes of both native grasslands and grasslands invaded by Old-World Bluestem Grasses to help determine if they influence the soil microbiome to assist in their invasion. Old-World Bluestem Grasses are grasses in the Bothriochloa genus, namely Bothriochloa ischaemum and Bothriochloa bladhii. Utilizing the QIIME2 software platform, I performed a variety of comparative diversity analyses between the two types of grasslands sampled across Kansas. The fungal portion of the microbiome seemed mostly unaffected by species of grass and their native vs. invasive status; however, location played a much large role in which fungi were present and their abundance. The bacterial component was also mostly unaffected by any variable; these being species, nativity, and location. This result may have been strongly influenced by both poor read count and the number of operational taxonomic units that could be assembled. In conclusion, location was what affected the fungal microbiome with nativity showing a measurable but insignificant effect; the bacterial portion was inconclusive due to the poor read counts and operational taxonomic unit assembly.


Dr. Nicholas Stewart

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type



© 2022 Zachary Nelson


For questions contact

Included in

Biology Commons