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Jonathan Cumming, Ph.D.

Professor

Research Interests

Soil stresses play critical roles controlling the structure, function, and productivity of ecosystems worldwide. Dr. Cumming's lab focuses on soil stress resistances in plants and the role of soil mycorrhizal fungi in moderating plant response to soils, while his teaching includes Plant Physiology, Water and Nutrient Relations of Plants, and Methods in Environmental Biology.

Of the major soil stresses, soil acidity limits plant productivity on 50% of the world’s arable land due to phytotoxic aluminum (Al) concentrations and limited phosphorus (P) availability. With increasing world demand for food, fuel, and fiber, identification of stress-resistant plant genotypes will facilitate food production, the production of biofuels feedstocks, and aid in reclamation of such soils.

Mycorrhizal fungi form near ubiquitous associations with plants and aid in the acquisition of soil nutrients by roots and increase the stress resistance of their host plants. The mechanisms behind these benefits include enhanced ion uptake efficiency and the production of compounds, such as organic acids and more complex molecules such as glomalin that alter chemical equilibria in the rhizosphere. The complex interactions between mycorrhizal fungi, their plant hosts, and soil chemical stresses are the focus of much of the activity in my group.

Current research projects include assessment of the metabolic bases of Al resistance and P efficiency in poplar, stability of Al resistance in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and the diversity and genetic stability of stress resistance traits in mycorrhizal fungi. My research integrates molecular, biochemical, whole plant, and field approaches to elucidate the mechanisms of plant responses to abiotic environmental stresses.

Recent publications

 

Seguel, A., J.R. Cumming, P. Cornejo, F. Borie. 2016. Aluminum tolerance of wheat cultivars and relation to arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization in a non-limed and limed Andisol. Applied Soil Ecology 108:  228-237.

Cumming, J.R., C. Zawaski, S. Desai, F.R. Collart.  2015.  Phosphorus disequilibrium in the tripartite plant-ectomycorrhiza-plant growth promoting rhizobacterial association.  Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 15: 464-485.

Desai, S., D. Naik, and J.R. Cumming. 2014. The influence of phosphorus availability and Laccaria bicolor symbiosis on phosphate acquisition, antioxidant enzyme activity, and rhizospheric carbon flux in Populus tremuloides. Mycorrhiza 24: 369-382. DOI 10.1007/s00572-013-0548-1

Levy, M.A., and J.R. Cumming. 2014. Development of soils and communities of plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on West Virginia surface mines. Environmental Management 54: 1153–1162. DOI 10.1007/s00267-014-0365-0

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