Orange Alert

Christopher W. Fernandez

Christopher W. Fernandez

Christopher W. Fernandez

Pronouns: He/him
Assistant Professor


448 Life Sciences Complex
Office: 315.443.3098


  • Ph.D. in Ecology, Pennsylvania State University (2014)
  • B.S. in Biological Sciences, California State University, Sacramento (2006)

Social/Academic Links

Biographic Overview

Our lab aims to understand how plants and soil microbes interact to control ecosystem processes and properties in both managed and natural systems, with an emphasis on mycorrhizal associations.

Research Interests

Mycorrhizal fungi are ubiquitous in soils and colonize the root systems of most plant species (>80%) to form symbiotic associations. While there are different types of mycorrhizal associations (i.e., arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, ericoid mycorrhizal) all with their unique ecology, in all cases the fungi acquire growth limiting nutrients from the soil (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorous) and exchange those resources for carbon provided by the plant host.

Since a large amount of carbon and nutrients flow through mycorrhizal fungi in most terrestrial ecosystems, they are widely seen as key mediators of terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycles. While there is a general appreciation of their importance, mechanistic understanding of the functional diversity found among and within mycorrhizal associations and how this diversity influences ecosystem level processes remains a major knowledge gap. Specifically, our lab is focused on three key research areas 1) carbon flow through mycorrhizal fungal biomass and contribution to soil carbon stocks, 2) mycorrhizal fungal functional trait diversity and its influence on nutrient economies and biogeochemical cycling, and 3) mycorrhizal community and functional response to global change. We use a broad range of approaches and techniques from different subfields including molecular ecology, classical microbiology, soil science, plant ecology, and ecosystem ecology to fill these knowledge gaps.

Research Specializations

Mycorrhizal ecology; soil ecology; ecosystem ecology; mycology