Peršoh, D; Melcher, M; Flessa, F; Rambold, G: First fungal community analyses of endophytic ascomycetes associated with Viscum album ssp. austriacum and its host Pinus sylvestris, Fungal Biology, 114, 585–596 (2010), doi:10.1016/j.funbio.2010.04.009


The endophytic fungal communities in the hemi-parasitic epiphyte Viscum album and in its phorophyte Pinus sylvestris were compared to reveal the fungal distribution patterns in their hosts. The ITS nrDNA of 208 multiple-isolated fungal strains was sequenced and a newly designed process was applied for assigning taxon names to the obtained sequences. Furthermore, the isolates were grouped as clusters, by subjecting a sequence similarity matrix to various cluster analyses, the results of which were compared and verified by data from phylogenetic reconstructions. In contrast to a previously reported dominance of Leotiomycetes among Pinus inhabiting fungi, the endophytic communities of the two host plant species studied here were dominated by Xylariaceae (Sordariomycetes). This is in accordance with the finding that host selectivity was only a minor factor in explaining the distribution patterns of the endophytic fungi in Viscum and Pinus. Organ and, probably, tissue selectivity had a more pronounced effect. The composition and condition of the woods in the surrounding, however, are concluded to be the major determinants, due to the following circumstantial evidence: The highest similarities in fungal community compositions were found for the leaves of the two host plant species, especially when considering only the older leaves. The finding that the inhabitants of matured or senescent organs are less hostselective is in accordance with decreasing defence capabilities of ageing host plant tissue and an increased nutrient supply for saprobic taxa. Therefore, the composition of the fungal communities in ageing leaves seems to be predominantly ascribed to contagious spread and to depend on the spectrum of nearby sporulating fungal taxa. We suggest that because a broad range of suitable substrates for Xylariaceae was present in immediate vicinity of the study sites, these fungi also dominated among the recorded endophytic taxa.

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