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NMSU Pecan Research Newsletter

New Mexico State University




McKenzie Stock

NMSU Graduate Student and Research Assistant

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Mycorrhizal Fungi Research

My name is McKenzie, and I am a graduate student researcher at New Mexico state University studying mycorrhizal fungi, root-associated fungi, in pecan orchard soils.

As part of my thesis, I hope to characterize the fungal communities of pecan orchards throughout the southwest.

I need your help!

When you see a mushroom on your orchard, or if you are willing to let me come to your orchard to search for mushrooms, please contact me! You can email, text, or call. 

I will sample the mushroom, soil, and pecan tree roots to determine the associated fungus species. These samples will not harm the pecan tree and will allow me to perform analyses back at the lab.

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If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please contact me!
Thank you!

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Research Objectives

  1. Characterize the mycorrhizal fungi in pecan orchards in the Southwest using morphological, ecological, and phylogenetic information.

  2. Effectively communicate my findings in ways that are useful to you, the pecan growers, and the scientific community.

This research is under the combined advisorship of Dr. Nicole Pietrasiak, Dr. Jennifer Randall, and Dr. Richard Heerema. 

About Mycorrhizal Fungi

Mycorrhiza refers to the specific, long-term (symbiotic) relationship between root-associated fungi and plants, including pecan trees. 

Mycorrhizal fungi provide many important services to the plant, including increasing water uptake, increasing nutrient availability and uptake, pathogen protection, increase in soil biological diversity, drought resistance, and more. 

Different mycorrhizal fungi provide different services to the plant and can be a crucial part of a plant’s growth and success. Mycorrhizal associations also increase orchard soil health and pecan yield as well. 

Chris Baker

About the Researcher About Mycorrhizal Fungi

I am a Master’s student at NMSU studying Plant & Environmental Science within the ACES College. I am also a researcher in Dr. Nicole Pietrasiak’s Lab. I would like to focus my thesis on mycorrhizal fungi in the pecan orchard soils in the Southwest. I’ve been lucky to get to start learning about the pecan industry through attending the WPGA conference and am excited to continue learning. 

I am originally from Michigan, where my grandfather is a cattle rancher and farmer. Agriculture is near and dear to my heart, as is science. I have published research in the Journal of Environmental Engineering and have also done soil science research on coffee farms in Southern Ecuador. 

  • Image from University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science: 
  • Image from Pennington Seed: 
  • Photo from McKenzie Stock