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Soil Microbial Communities on Organic and Conventionally Managed Golf Courses

Sponsoring Unit(s): 
Department of Project: 
UMass Extension
Project Description: 

The Turf Pathology and Breeding Laboratory at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a three-year research grant (2013-2016) from the United States Golf Association Green Section.  The proposed study will compare the soil microbial communities and soil compositions between an organically and a conventionally managed golf course on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts using Next Generation Sequencing techniques.  The research objectives are 1) to determine diversity and relative abundance of microbes (bacteria, fungi, and nematodes) from each site with emphasis on potentially pathogenic microbes and those that play important roles in nutrient cycling, 2) determine if organically managed golf course soils display higher “evenness” in their microbial communities than conventional systems, and 3) determine the relative abundances of seven important turf pathogens, specifically those that cause dollar spot, brown patch, brown ring patch, summer patch, pythium, take-all, and anthracnose, between sites to see if they vary according to management regime.  The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of organic turf management regimes on turfgrass diseases and to compare the level of control with that of conventional golf courses.  These experiments will be lead by Ms. Elisha Allan, Ph.D. student in Jung lab as part of her doctoral dissertation and in cooperation with Dr. Daniel Manter, Research Plant Physiologist at the Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit of the USDA-ARS in Colorado.

Commercial Horticulture topics: