Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Shawn Paul Brown

Committee Member

Mark MV Weaver

Committee Member

Jennifer JM Mandel

Committee Member

Matthew MP Parris

Committee Member

Paul PS Simone


One unrealized aspect of invasive plant management is the incorporation of plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions, including utilization of microorganisms as biocontrol agents. While the development of such an ecological approach is in its infancy, I argue that incorporation of microbes into management plans should be a priority for the development of more sustainable tools for invasive plant control and incorporation into integrative pest management programs. Fungal endophytes, fungal species that live within a plant but do not negatively impact plant fitness or functions, are a major component of the plant microbiome. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is a dominant, abundant, and highly aggressive invasive plant in the Southeast United States, and it serves as a pathogen reservoir that impacts economically important leguminous crops. To better understand the tripartite interactions between kudzu, endophytes, and the environment toward the development of alternative control strategies, I investigated 1) the environmental drivers controlling kudzu fungal endophyte communities, which included the very first investigation into the kudzu microbiome, 2) the impacts of different established kudzu control options on soil physicochemical and biological properties, and 3) the endophyte-endophyte interactions in vitro of kudzu derived fungal endophytes and pathogens to elucidate potential antagonistic and/or facilitation dynamics. This work advances our understanding of the potential use of fungal endophytes as an effective ecologically based approach to manage invasive plants yet reflects a strong need for additional research into the impacts of endophytes on plant performance and fitness. This project provides needed background knowledge toward the development additional invasive control strategies.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access