Georgetown Scientific Research Journal GSR Journal
Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that cover 2-3% of land surface area.1 These habitats carry out several essential functions such as providing habitats for many species, acting as a buffer between terrestrial land and ocean waters, and most importantly, acting as a major carbon (C) storage pool. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) symbionts are key organisms in salt marsh habitats and are known to influence the following: plant zonation, plant resource competition, plant productivity, plant genetic diversity, soil C sequestration, soil C:N:P ratios, saprotrophic bacterial population and diversity, soil stability, and litter decomposition. Under rapidly changing conditions caused by climate change it is difficult to predict how AMF communities will respond to these factors, which would ultimately alter those processes. In this review, we will outline the functions and roles that AMF communities play in salt marsh soils. Additionally, we will present current knowledge and predictions of how AMF will respond to rising sea levels, elevated CO₂ levels, and eutrophication. Lastly, we will outline our research design and methods which aims to identify soil fungal diversity and abundance in different grass patches. We will also look at several factors that potentially alter soil fungi such as edge-effects, elevation gradients, patch size, soil conductivity, pH, and soil stoichiometry. Studying soil fungi is essential for understanding how these communities are predicted to react to a changing climate, and consequently alter salt marsh processes.