Rebecca Bunn

Professor · she/her/hers


PhD Land Resources & Environmental Sciences, Montana State University Bozeman; MS Environmental Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder; BS Civil Engineering, Michigan Technology University-Houghton

Research Interests

I am interested in plant-soil interactions, particularly within the context of invasion ecology, sustainable agriculture, and restoration. My research focuses on mycorrhizal ecology. Mycorrhizas are an ancient plant-fungal symbiosis in which the plant provides the fungus with carbon and the fungus provides the host plant with a suite of potential benefits, the most common being increased nutrient acquisition.  

In addition, I am an applied-statistics-enthusiast!  I am especially interested in the evolving methods needed to answer ecology questions.


Mafune, K.K., D.J. Vogt, K.A. Vogt, E.C. Cline, B.J. Godfrey, R.A. Bunn, and A.J.S. Meade. 2023. Old-growth Acer macrophyllum trees host a unique suite of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and other root-associated fungal taxa in their canopy soil environment. Mycologia, 115:4, 470-483.

Sullivan, A, Bunn, R., Cheeke, T. 2023. Invasion by the annual grass, Ventenata dubia does not impact mycorrhizal fungal abundance in an endangered prairie. Restoration Ecology.

Lu, Q, Bunn, R., Whitney, E., Feng, Y., DeVetter, L.W., Tao, H. 2023. Arbuscular mycorrhizae influence raspberry growth and soil fertility under conventional and organic fertilization. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Bunn, R.A., Antunes, P.M., Bullington, L.S., Fahey, C., Lekberg, Y. 2023. Soil moisture and competition determine soil biota effects on invasive Centaurea stoebe. Functional Ecology.

Cheeke, T.E, Schneider, M., Saify, A., Brauner, M., Bunn, R.A. 2022. Role of soil biota in grassland restorations in high nutrient soils. Restoration Ecology.

Bunn, R.A., Simpson, D.T., Bullington, L.S., Lekberg, Y., & Janos, D.P. (2019). Revisiting the ‘direct mineral cycling’ hypothesis: arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonize leaf litter, but why? The ISME Journal. doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0403-2 ​

Lekberg, Y., J. Bever, R.A. Bunn, R. Callaway, M. Hart, S. Kivlin, J. Klironomos, B. Larkin, J. Maron, K. Reinhart, M. Remke, Michael, W. van der Putten. (2018). Relative importance of competition and plant soil feedbacks, their context dependency and implications for coexistence. Ecology Letters. 21(8): 1268-1281. doi: 10.1111/ele.13093

Lekberg, Y., M. Vasar, L. Bullington, S.K. Sepp, P. Antunes, R.A. Bunn, B. Larkin, M. Öpik. (2018). More bang for the buck? Can arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities be characterized adequately alongside other fungi using general fungal primers? New Phytologist. 220(4): 971-976. doi: 10.1111/nph.15035,

Cortese A.M. & Bunn, R.A.  (2017). Availability and function of arbuscular mycorrhizal and ectomycorrhizal fungi during revegetation of dewatered reservoirs left after dam removal. Restoration Ecology. 25(1): 63-71. doi: 10.1111/rec.12406

Bunn, R. A., Ramsey, P. W., & Lekberg, Y. (2015). Do native and invasive plants differ in their interactions with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi? A meta-analysis. Journal of Ecology, 103: 1547–1556. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12456

Bunn, R. A., Lekberg, Y., Gallagher, C., Rosendahl, S., & Ramsey, P. W. (2014). Grassland invaders and their mycorrhizal symbionts: a study across climate and invasion gradients. Ecology and Evolution, 4(6):794–805. doi:10.1002/ece3.917

Zabinski, C.A. & Bunn, R.A. (2014). Function of mycorrhizae in extreme environments, pp. 201-214,  In Zakaria M. Solaiman, Lynette K. Abbott and Ajit K. Varma [eds.], Mycorrhizal Fungi: Use in Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Springer Soil Biology Series

Bunn, R. A., Lekberg, Y., & Zabinski, C. A. (2009). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi ameliorate temperature stress in thermophilic plants. Ecology, 90(5), 1378–1388. 

Bunn, R. A., Magelky, R. D., Ryan, J. N., & Elimelech, M. (2002). Mobilization of natural colloids from an iron oxide-coated sand aquifer: effect of pH and ionic strength. Environmental Science & Technology, 36(3), 314–22.

Bunn, R. A., & Zabinski, C. A. (2003). Arbuscular mycorrhizae in thermal-influenced soils in Yellowstone National Park. Western North American Naturalist, 63(4), 409–415.

Ryan, J. N., Elimelech, M., Ard (Bunn), R. A., Harvey, R. W., & Johnson, P. R. (1999). Bacteriophage PRD1 and Silica Colloid Transport and Recovery in an Iron Oxide-Coated Sand Aquifer. Environmental Science & Technology, 33(1), 63–73. doi:10.1021/es980350+

Teaching Schedule

Not teaching Spring or Fall 2024