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Mycologia. 2010 Sep-Oct;102(5):1012-26. doi: 10.3852/09-264.

Shifting fungal endophyte communities colonize Bouteloua gracilis: effect of host tissue and geographical distribution.

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Department of Biology, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri 63501, USA.


Communities of root-associated fungi (RAF) commonly have been studied under the auspices of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) or ectomycorrhizal fungi. However many studies now indicate that other groups of endophytic RAF, including dark septate endophytes (DSE) are more abundant in some plants and environments. The common forage grass, Bouteloua gracilis, was used as a model to examine whether RAF also colonize different organs within the same plant and to compare RAF communities from sites across North America, spanning the latitudinal range of B. gracilis (from Canada to Mexico). We compared the RAF communities of organs within individual plants at one site and within plant roots among six sites. With the possible exception of one group related to genus Paraphaeosphaeria there was little evidence that RAF colonized vertically beyond the crowns. Furthermore, although there was some variation in the constitution of rare members of the RAF communities, several taxonomically related groups dominated the RAF community at all sites. These dominant taxa included members in the Pleosporales (related to the DSE, Paraphaeosphaeria spp.), Agaricales (related to Moniliophthora spp., or Campanella spp.) and Hypocreales (related to Fusarium spp.). AMF were notable by their near absence. Similar phylotypes from the dominant groups clustered around adjacent sites so that similarity of the RAF communities was negatively correlated to site inter-distance and the RAF communities appeared to group by country. These results increase the possibility that at least some of these common and widely distributed core members of the RAF community form important, intimate and long lasting relationships with grasses.

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