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Fungal Endophyte Communities are Similar in Composition but have Different Effects on a Native and an Invasive Plant Species

Schuessler, Alexandra Jane (2021) Fungal Endophyte Communities are Similar in Composition but have Different Effects on a Native and an Invasive Plant Species. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Root associated fungi are highly diverse and have important ecological functions, yet most studies focus on mycorrhizal or pathogenic fungi. The more poorly understood root endophytes and a sub class of these fungi, the dark septate endophytes (DSE) are widespread, abundant and appear equally likely to colonize the roots of native and non-native host plants. While DSE can improve plant soil resource uptake, provide defense against pests, and produce plant growth regulators, it is unclear if these fungi differentially affect native and invasive plants. We surveyed the root endophyte community of both a foundation native riparian tree species, Populus fremontii (Fremont Cottonwood), and its invasive competitor, Tamarix sp.. (tamarisk) and assessed how three common DSE influenced Populus fremontii and Tamarix sp.. growth and functional traits using greenhouse experiments. We found Populus fremontii hosted twice as many DSE isolates than found on tamarisk, but both plant species had similar but diverse DSE communities. We isolated a total of 27 different fungal root endophyte genera from the trees, with 19 genera found on cottonwood roots and 17 genera on tamarisk roots. The DSE communities of these plants were also similar with 8 genera on Populus fremontii and 12 on Tamarix sp.., 5 of these genera were shared by the plant species. Interestingly, the 5 fungal genera shared by the two plant species were also the most common and the DSE community composition did not differ significantly between the species. Inoculation with the DSE Phialophora sp., Phomopsis sp. and Pleosporales sp. affected the growth and biomass allocation of both cottonwoods and Tamarix sp. . relative to sterile-inoculated controls. In both plant species, inoculation with DSE decreased root biomass. However, DSE increased specific root length and decreased root to leaf surface area in tamarisk, while having a stronger effect on the roots of Populus fremontii and decreasing the root to leaf surface area for all DSE treatments. For aboveground traits, only Phialophora sp. increased leaf dry mass in Tamarix sp. . while all DSE species increased leaf mass in P. fremontii. These results demonstrate that taxa of DSE colonize the roots of native and invasive riparian plants similarly. However, the fungi differed in how they affected the functional traits of the two plant species, which could have implications for their growth, survival, and competitive dynamics.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Dark septate endophyte; Endophyte; Fremont Cottonwood; Fungal Community; Fungal Endophyte; Tamarisk
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences > Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2022 21:35
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2022 08:30
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5661

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