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NAU Hosting International Mycorrhiza Conference

Mycorrhizal_root_tips_(amanita)Northern Arizona University has been selected to host the Eighth International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM8), which will take place August 3–7, 2015. The conference will bring nearly 500 people from more than 50 different countries to the High Country Conference Center.

Mycorrhizas are mutually beneficial associations between plant roots and fungi. In this symbiosis, plants provide sugars to fungi in exchange for nutrients and water. Mycorrhizas are particularly important to plants in nutrient-poor soils and may hold new hope for protecting plants from pests. Also, the fungi involved in mycorrhizas are extremely abundant and play important roles in stabilizing soil against erosion.

“The conference provides an incredible opportunity to highlight the cutting-edge research taking place at Northern Arizona University,” said Nancy Johnson, a professor in Biological Sciences and the School of Earth Science and Environmental Sustainability and conference co-organizer. “NAU researchers are finding ways to unite natural sciences from molecular to ecosystem scales and are developing strategies for integrating mycorrhizal sciences across scales.”

The International Conference on Mycorrhizas was last hosted in the United States in 1996 by the University of California, Berkeley. India, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Australia and Sweden have also hosted the conference.

“This conference is a great opportunity to showcase NAU’s strengths in ecology and environmental sciences,” noted William Grabe, Vice President for Research. “It will introduce many leading scientists to the work we do and it will generate tremendous opportunities to build interdisciplinary networks between NAU and leading international researchers.”

“The proximity of Flagstaff to natural wonders such as Grand Canyon and historic landmarks like Route 66 was a tremendous selling point,” noted Catherine Gehring, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and conference co-organizer. “Many of the ICOM8 participants are planning to bring their families to Flagstaff to vacation after the conference.”

On the basis of spending estimates contained in the 2008–9 Flagstaff Visitor Study, each conference attendee will spend on average $1,900 during their stay, for a total contribution of more than $1 million to the Flagstaff economy.

As part of the conference, the public is invited to a free presentation by special guest speaker Tom Bruns, who will discuss forest fire, fungi, and the post-fire environment. The presentation will take place on Monday, August 3, from 7:30 to 9 pm at Prochnow Auditorium on the NAU campus.




Nancy Johnson, Professor

Biological Sciences and

School of Earth Science

& Environmental Sustainability

Northern Arizona University

(928) 523-6473


Catherine Gehring, Professor

Department of Biological Sciences

Northern Arizona University

(928) 523-9158





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