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Environ Microbiol. 2005 Feb;7(2):270-80.

Seasonal and substrate preferences of fungi colonizing leaves in streams: traditional versus molecular evidence.

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63B York Street, Department of Biology, Mt. Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick E4L 1G7, Canada.


Aquatic hyphomycetes are the main fungal decomposers of plant litter in streams. We compared the importance of substrate (three leaf species, wood) and season on fungal colonization. Substrates were exposed for 12 4-week periods. After recovery, mass loss, fungal biomass and release of conidia by aquatic hyphomycetes were measured. Fungal communities were characterized by counting and identifying released conidia and by extracting and amplifying fungal DNA (ITS2), which was subdivided into phylotypes by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). Mass loss, fungal biomass and reproduction were positively correlated with stream temperature. Conidial diversity was highest between May and September. Numbers of different phylotypes were more stable. Principal coordinate analyses (PCO) and canonical analyses of principal coordinates (CAP) of presence/absence data (DGGE bands, T-RFLP peaks and conidial species) showed a clear seasonal trend (P<or=0.002) but no substrate effect (P>or=0.88). Season was also a significant factor when proportional similarities of conidial communities or relative intensities of DGGE bands were evaluated (P<or=0.003). Substrate was a significant factor determining DGGE band intensities (P=0.002), but did not significantly affect conidial communities (P=0.50). Both traditional and molecular techniques suggest that strict exclusion of fungi by substrate type is rare, and that presence of different species or phylotypes is governed by season. Biomasses of the various taxa (based on DGGE band intensities) were related to substrate type.

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