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Thomas L. Bultman Professor of Biology
Dr. Bultman's area of interest broadly spans arthropod ecology with particular interest in plant-fungus-insect interactions. Much of the work by students and Dr. Bultman has focussed on fungal endophytes (Clavicipitaceae) that infect the shoots of grasses. Neotyphodium coenophialum, an endophytic, asexually-reproducing fungus of the forage grass, tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum), protects its host from some herbivores through production of alkaloids. These fungi are important both ecologically due to their prevalence in most C3 grasses and economically due to their occurrence in widely-used forage and turf grasses. Experiments conducted in Dr. Bultman's laboratory have shown that N. coenophialum mediates reversal of wound-induced susceptible and that resistance to insects varies with environmental factors, like drought and fungal genotype. Students in his lab are currently investigating fungi infecting native grasses to see if they provide similar benefits to their hosts. Another line of investigation has involved beneficial insects that parasitize pests. Argentine stem weevil is an important insect pest of pastures in New Zealand. Students have tested if several different strains of the fungus altered the growth and survival of the parasitoid, Microctonus hyperodae. A third line of work involves sexual forms of grass endophytes (Epichloë spp.) which infect several native species where they cause “choke” symptoms in which the grass fails to flower. Epichloë species are self-incompatible fungi. Flies of the genus Botanophila (Anthomyiidae) act as vectors of fungal spores by ingesting and defecating them onto the fungal fruiting body after oviposition. Students have conducted genetic analyses of both fungi and flies collected from experimental field sites in Switzerland to determine the specificity of the insects as they select fungi for egg laying and feeding. Future work in the Bultman laboratory will likely continue along these broad lines of investigation into the ecology of these important plant-fungal-insect interactions.Go to current research projects
I am originally from Fremont, Michigan and came to Hope College as a student in 1974. While at Hope, Dr. Allen Brady mentored my undergraduate research project on spider ecology. I met my spouse, Judy Karen Bultman while we were both students at Hope College. We have three adult children, Kelly, Bart and Hilary, and one chocolate Labrador retriever, Rocky. In addition to Biology, I also enjoy bicycling, cross country skiing and folk music.
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