Fungal endophytes have been found in every plant species examined to date and appear to be important, but largely unquantified, components of fungal biodiversity. Endophytes are especially little known in tropical forest trees, where their abundance and diversity are thought to be greatest. Here, we explore the occurrence of endophytes in a broad diversity of woody, angiospermous taxa in a lowland, moist tropical forest in central Panamá. We use similarity indices to assess host preference and spatial heterogeneity of endophytes associated with two co-occurring, but distantly related, understorey tree species in two sites of that forest, and assess the utility of indices based on frequencies of morphospecies occurrence (Morisita-Horn index) and on presence-absence data (Sørensen's index). We suggest that our understanding of fungal diversity will be enhanced by exploring ecological patterns underlying endophyte occurrence in host species, and discuss methods for assessing the proportion of fungal biodiversity represented by tropical endophytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science