Graduate Program

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2021

Thesis Director

Scott J. Meiners

Thesis Committee Member

Sanghoon Kang

Thesis Committee Member

Thomas Canam


Intraspecific variation may play a key role in understanding the relationships between plants and their interactions with soil microbial communities. The effects that soil-microbes have on individuals can venerate variation across individuals in their responsiveness. I explored how relatedness alters plant-soil feedbacks in established Solidago altissima clones grown in a common garden. Seedlings of known parentage were inoculated with soils from the maternal, paternal, or unrelated clones and compared to autoclaved control inocula. I found that the soil inocula generated from S. altissima had an overall negative effect of seedling biomass. Furthermore, seedlings inoculated with maternal or paternal soils experienced a larger negative effect than seedlings inoculated with unrelated soils. Relatedness to the culturing plant strongly negatively affected seedling growth, whereas unrelated soils were slightly more variable but less negative. My data argue that genetic relatedness represents a largely unexplored source of heterogeneity in plant-soil feedbacks.