Ailanthus altissima produces the inhibitory chemical ailanthone, which is primarily found in the roots and bark of maturing trees. The goal of this project was to determine under what soil conditions ailanthone decomposes. Ailanthone broke down in slightly basic conditions and non-sterile soil while remaining stable in sterile soil. This suggests that ailanthone is broken down by soil microbes. The next phase in this project was isolating the soil bacteria that may be responsible for ailanthone decomposition in soil. Soil bacteria were successfully cultured from soil samples near A. altissima trees using a structurally similar compound to ailanthone, quassin, for selection.

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