Tower Hotline: 440.602.3838 | Phone: 440.946.4400

David J. Burke, PhD


Ph.D. 2001, Rutgers University, Biology

Adjuct Appointments:

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology,
Case Western Reserve University

David J. Burke, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

My primary research interest as an ecologist has been the interaction between plants and soil microorganisms; especially mutualistic and associative soil organisms that live in the root zone of plants. Of special interest are mycorrhizal fungi that form mutually beneficial relationships with plant roots. Mycorrhizal fungi can enhance plant growth, disease resistance, drought tolerance, and affect plant community composition. These fungi can also influence other soil microbes that affect soil fertility through the cycling of nitrogen and phosphorous in natural systems. Consequently, mycorrhizal fungi may be key organisms in many communities, and a better understanding of how they interact with plants and other soil microbes is necessary for the future sound management of natural ecosystems. Our laboratory has two interrelated goals: 1) to describe the diversity of fungi in natural systems and to understand the environmental factors affecting this diversity 2) to understand the functional consequences of mycorrhizal diversity for plant growth, plant community structure, and ecosystem processes.  Our laboratory uses modern, DNA-based techniques for describing soil micro-organisms including mycorrhizal fungi.

Some Current Projects

  • Ectomycorrhizal diversity in mature beech-maple forests: effects of seasonality, soil environmental conditions and root growth (more)
  • Soil acidification and the diversity and function of mycorrhizal communities in forests (more)
  • Fungi in winter: fungal ecology and snow cover (more)
  • The effects of the invasive plant garlic mustard on mycorrhizal fungi and soil microbial communities
  • Microbial ecology of vernal pools

Select Publications

Krynak KL, Burke DJ, and Benard MF (2016) Landscape and water characteristics correlate with immune defense traits across Blanchard’s cricket frog (Acris blanchardi) populations. Biological Conservation 193: 153–167.

Burke DJ, Pietrasiak N, Situ SF, Abenojar EC, Porche M, Kraj P, Lakliang Y, and Samia ACS (2015) Iron oxide and titanium oxide nanoparticle effects on plant performance and root associated microbes. International Journal of Molecular Science 16: 23630-23650; doi:10.3390/ijms161023630.

Krynak KL, Burke DJ, and Benard MF (2015) Larval environment alters amphibian immune defenses differentially across life stages and populations. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0130383.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130383.

Burke DJ (2015) Effects of annual and inter-annual environmental variability on soil fungi associated with an old-growth, temperate hardwood forest. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 91 (6): doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiv053.

Burns JH, Anacker BL, Strauss SY, Burke DJ (2015) Soil microbial community variation correlates most strongly with plant species identity, followed by soil chemistry, spatial location and plant genus. AoB PLANTS 7: plv030; doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv030. *Honored as Editor’s Choice.

Hewins CR, Carrino-Kyker SR, and Burke DJ (2015) Seasonal variation in mycorrhizal fungi on roots of Allium tricoccum (wild leek) in a mature mixed hardwood forest. Mycorrhiza 25: 469-483.

Burke DJ, Smemo KA, and Hewins CR (2014) Ectomycorrhizal fungi isolated from old-growth northern hardwood forest display variability in extracellular enzyme activity in the presence of plant litter. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 68: 219-222.

Pendergast TH, Burke DJ, and Carson WP (2013) Belowground biotic complexity drives aboveground dynamics: A test of the soil community feedback model. New Phytologist 197: 1300–1310.

Carrino-Kyker SR, Smemo KA, and Burke DJ (2013) Shotgun metagenomic analysis of metabolic diversity and microbial community structure in experimental vernal pools subjected to NO3- pulse. BMC Microbiology 13:78.

Kluber LA, Carrino-Kyker SR, Coyle KP, DeForest JL, Hewins CR, Shaw AN, Smemo KA, and Burke DJ (2012) Mycorrhizal response to experimental pH and P manipulation in acidic hardwood forests. PLoS ONE 7(11): e48946.