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Microb Ecol. 2008 Jan;55(1):38-44. Epub 2007 Apr 15.

Effects of propagule density and survival strategies on establishment and growth: further investigations in the phylloplane fungal model system.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA 30223-1797, USA.


This work builds on an earlier culture study where we determined that species diversity of competing saprotrophic phyllpolane fungi had only a negligible effect on the establishment and coexistence of a target fungus, Pestalotia vaccinii. Here, we explore preliminary evidence suggesting that spore density is a more important contributing factor to colonization and coexistence. We examine the influence of propagule density in vitro on establishment and growth of select members of the phylloplane of Vaccinium macrocarpon (American cranberry). To evaluate the response of the weak pathogen P. vaccinii to changes in competitors spore density, we chose saprotrophs from the previous investigation that had the greatest inhibitory effect on the establishment of P. vaccinii (Curvularia lunata), an intermediate inhibitory effect (Alternaria alternata) and the least inhibitory effect (Penicillium sp.). A constant target spore concentration of 50 viable spores of P. vaccinii was pit against densities of the three individual competitors ranging between 12 and 200 spores. As viable propagule density increased, establishment and coexistence of P. vaccinii significantly decreased, with C. lunata and A. alternata decreasing the growth of P. vaccinii more than Penicillium sp. Concomitantly, both C. lunata and Penicillium sp. were not significantly affected by overall spore density but were significantly affected by the presence of P. vaccinii. A. alternata, on the other hand, was not significantly influenced by the presence of P. vaccinii but was significantly affected by overall spore density. An in vitro investigation into the effect of interspecific competition on mycelial growth suggests how different survival strategies and community assembly rules might influence both growth and development. Growth of P. vaccinii was significantly less when interacting with C. lunata than when interacting with either A. alternata or Penicillium sp. Conversely, P. vaccinii had the greatest effect on the growth of C. lunata, less of an effect on the growth of A. alternata, and the least effect on Penicillium sp.

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