Department of Biological Sciences

Andrea Porras-Alfaro, Associate Professor

Mycology, microbial molecular ecologyAndrea

Contact Information:

Office: Waggoner Hall 287
Lab: Waggoner Hall 273
Phone number: (309) 298 1267

Personal Homepage:


Ph.D. - University of New Mexico, 2008
M.S. - University of Puerto Rico, 2004
B.S. - Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica, 2000

Courses Taught:
  • BOT 200 Introduction to Botany
  • MICR 401G Mycology
  • MICR 464G Medical Mycology
  • BIOL 502 Molecular Applications in Organismal Biology
Research Interests:

My laboratory focuses studies fungal symbiotic associations, their emergent properties, and the effect of global climate change on fungal diversity and community structure. We are interested in ecological roles of fungi, their diversity, biogeographical distributions, and potential applications of novel fungal consortia.

  • Dean SL, Farrer EC, Porras-Alfaro A, Suding KN, Sinsabaugh RL. 2014. Assembly of Root Associated Bacteria Communities: Interactions between abiotic and biotic factors. Environmental Microbiology Reports. DOI: 10.1111/1758-2229.12194
  • Porras-Alfaro A, Raghavan S, Garcia M, Sinsabaugh RL, Natvig DO, Lowrey TK. 2014. Endophytic fungal symbionts associated with gypsophilous plants. Botany 92: 295-301
  • Porras-Alfaro A, Kuan-Liang L, Kuske CR, Xie. 2014. From Genus to Phylum: LSU and ITS rRNA operon regions showed similar classification accuracy influenced by database composition. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 829-840
  • Cole JR, Wang Q, Fish JA, Chai B, McGarrell DM, Sun Y, Brown CT, Porras-Alfaro A, Kuske CR, Tiedje JM. 2014. Ribosomal Database Project: data and tools for high throughput rRNA analysis Nucl. Acids Res. 41: 1-10,  doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt1244.
  • Johnson L, Miller AN, McCleery RA, McClanahan R, Kath JA, Lueschow S and Porras-Alfaro A. 2013. Psychrophilic and Psychrotolerant Fungi on Bats and the Presence of Geomycesspp. on Bat Wings Prior to the Arrival of White Nose Syndrome. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.79(18):5465. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01429-13
  • Bates ST, Ahrendt S, Bik H,Bruns T, Caparaso JG, Cole J, Dwan M, Fierer N, Gu D, Houston S, Knight R, LeffJ, Lewis C, McDonald D, Nilsson H, Porras-Alfaro A, Robert V, Schoch C, ScottJ, Taylor L, Wegener-Parfrey L, Stajich JE. 2013. Meeting report: Fungal ITSworkshop (October 2012). Standards in Genomic Sciences. 8: 1 (doi:10.4056/sigs.3737409).
  • Dean SL, Farrer EC, Taylor DL, Porras-Alfaro A,Suding KN,Sinsabaugh RL. 2013. Nitrogen deposition alters plant-fungal relationships: linking belowground dynamics to aboveground vegetation change. Molecular Ecology 23: 1364-1378.
  • Weber CF, Balasch MM, Gossage Z, Porras-Alfaro A, Kuske CR. 2012.Soil Fungal Cellobiohydrolase I Gene (cbhI) Composition and Expression in a Loblolly Pine Plantation under Conditions of Elevated Atmospheric CO2 and Nitrogen Fertilization. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78:3950-3957. 
  • Liu, K.L., Andrea Porras-Alfaro, C.R. Kuske, S.A. Eichorst, and G. Xie. 2012. Accurate, rapid taxonomic classification of fungal large subunit rRNA genes. Applied and  Environmental Microbiology 2011 Dec 22. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Odenbach, K., M. Spilde, Andrea Porras-Alfaro, and A. Nyberg, 2012. Northup D. fungal communities associated with rock varnish in Black Canyon, NM: Casual inhabitants or essential partners? Geomicrobiology Journal 29:752-766
  • Weber, C.F., M.M. Balasch, Z. Gossage, Andrea Porras-Alfaro, and C.R. Kuske. 2012.Soil fungal cellobiohydrolase I Gene (cbhI) composition and expression in a Loblolly Pine plantation under conditions of elevated atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen fertilization. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78:3950-3957.
  • Porras-Alfaro, Andrea, and P. Bayman. 2011. Hidden fungi, emergent properties: endophytes and microbiomes. Annual Review of Phytopathology 49:291-315
  • Porras-Alfaro, Andrea, J. Herrera, D.O. Natvig, K. Lipinski, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2011. Diversity and distribution of soil fungal communities in a semiarid grassland. Mycologia 103:10-21.
  • Khidir, H.K., D.M. Eudy, Andrea Porras-Alfaro, J. Herrera, D.O. Natvig, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2010. A general suite of fungal endophytes dominate the roots of two dominant grasses in a semiarid grassland. Journal of Arid Environments 74:35-42.
  • Herrera, J., H.H. Khidir, D.M. Eudy, Andrea Porras-Alfaro, D.O. Natvig, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2010. Variation in root-associated fungal endophytes: some taxonomic consistency at a transcontinental scale. Mycologia 102:1012-1023.
  • Porras-Alfaro, Andrea, J. Herrera, K. Odenbach, T. Lowrey, R.L. Sinsabaugh, and D.O. Natvig. 2008. A novel root fungal consortium associated with a dominant desert grass. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74:2805-2813.
  • Collins, S., R.L. Sinsabaugh, C. Crenshaw, L. Green, Andrea Porras-Alfaro, M. Stursova, and L. Zeglin. 2008. Pulse dynamics and microbial processes in aridland ecosystems. Journal of Ecology 96:413-420.
  • Green, L.E., Andrea Porras-Alfaro, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2008. Translocation of nitrogen and carbon integrates biotic crust and grass production in desert grassland. Journal of Ecology 96:1076-1085.
  • Gallo M., Andrea Porras-Alfaro, Odenbach K, Sinsabaugh R.L. 2008 Photoaccelaration of plant litter decomposition in an arid environment. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 41:1433-1441.
  • Porras-Alfaro, Andrea, J. Herrera, D.O. Natvig, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2007. Effect of long-term nitrogen fertilization on mycorrhizal fungi associated with a dominant grass in a semiarid grassland. Plant and Soil 296:65-75.
  • Porras-Alfaro, Andrea, and P. Bayman. 2007. Mycorrhizal fungi of Vanilla: specificity, phylogeny and effects on seed germination and plant growth. Mycologia 99(4):510-525.
  • Porras, Andrea, and P. Bayman. 2003. Mycorrhizal fungi of Vanilla: Root colonization patterns and fungal identification. Lankesteriana 7:147-150.