Culturing and direct PCR suggest prevalent host generalism among diverse fungal endophytes of tropical forest grasses

K. Lindsay Higgins, Phyllis D. Coley, Thomas A. Kursar, Anne E Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most studies examining endophytic fungi associated with grasses (Poaceae) have focused on agronomically important species in managed ecosystems or on wild grasses in subtropical, temperate and boreal grasslands. However grasses first arose in tropical forests, where they remain a significant and diverse component of understory and forest-edge communities. To provide a broader context for understanding grass-endophyte associations we characterized fungal endophyte communities inhabiting foliage of 11 species of phylogenetically diverse C3 grasses in the understory of a lowland tropical forest at Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Our sample included members of early-arising subfamilies of Poaceae that are endemic to forests, as well as more recently arising subfamilies that transitioned to open environments. Isolation on culture media and direct PCR and cloning revealed that these grasses harbor species-rich and phylogenetically diverse communities that lack the endophytic Clavicipitaceae known from diverse woodland and pasture grasses in the temperate zone. Both the incidence and diversity of endophytes was consistent among grass species regardless of subfamily, clade affiliation or ancestral habitat use. Genotype and phylogenetic analyses suggest that these endophytic fungi are predominantly host generalists, shared not only among distinctive lineages of Poaceae but also with non-grass plants at the same site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-260
Number of pages14
JournalMycologia
Volume103
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Fingerprint

Endophytes
endophyte
Poaceae
endophytes
tropical forests
tropical forest
grass
grasses
Polymerase Chain Reaction
understory
fungus
Clavicipitaceae
Ecosystem
fungi
Forests
Fungi
forest edge
lowland forests
Panama
temperate zones

Keywords

  • Ascomycota
  • Barro colorado island
  • Diversity
  • Endophytes
  • Environmental sampling
  • Internal transcribed spacer
  • Poaceae
  • Tropical forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology

Cite this

Culturing and direct PCR suggest prevalent host generalism among diverse fungal endophytes of tropical forest grasses. / Higgins, K. Lindsay; Coley, Phyllis D.; Kursar, Thomas A.; Arnold, Anne E.

In: Mycologia, Vol. 103, No. 2, 03.2011, p. 247-260.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Higgins, K. Lindsay ; Coley, Phyllis D. ; Kursar, Thomas A. ; Arnold, Anne E. / Culturing and direct PCR suggest prevalent host generalism among diverse fungal endophytes of tropical forest grasses. In: Mycologia. 2011 ; Vol. 103, No. 2. pp. 247-260.
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