Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Transfer of Fungal Endophytes from Leaves to Woody Substrates

Version 1 : Received: 28 June 2019 / Approved: 11 July 2019 / Online: 11 July 2019 (07:40:35 CEST)

How to cite: Nelson, A.; Vandegrift, R.; Carroll, G.C.; Roy, B.A. Transfer of Fungal Endophytes from Leaves to Woody Substrates. Preprints 2019, 2019070153 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201907.0153.v1). Nelson, A.; Vandegrift, R.; Carroll, G.C.; Roy, B.A. Transfer of Fungal Endophytes from Leaves to Woody Substrates. Preprints 2019, 2019070153 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201907.0153.v1).

Abstract

Fungal endophytes have been found in all plants surveyed to date, yet for many fungi the function of endophytism is still unknown. The Foraging Ascomycete Hypothesis (FAH) proposes that saprotrophic fungi utilize an endophytic stage in leaves to modify dispersal. Under this hypothesis, leaves can provide food and water during time of environmental scarcity and they can transport the fungi to other substrates upon dehiscence. If the FAH is accurate, then some endophytes should have the ability to colonize saprobic substrates directly from a leaf-endophyte stage, though this has been little studied. To assess this ability, twelve surface-sterilized leaves of a tropical tree (Nectandra lineatifolia Mez) were placed directly on wood and incubated for six weeks. Fungi from the wood were subsequently cultured and identified by ITS sequences or morphology. 477 fungal isolates comprising 26 OTUs were cultured from the wood, the majority of which belong to saprotrophic genera (70.8% of OTUs, 82.3% of isolates). The mean OTU richness per leaf was 5.67. The term viaphyte (literally, “by way of plant”) is introduced and defined as fungi that colonize living leaves as endophytes and use the leaves to transfer to another substrate, such as wood, when the leaves dehisce. These results strengthen the Foraging Ascomycete Hypothesis and expose the possibility that viaphytism plays a significant role in the dispersal of fungal saprotrophs.

Subject Areas

fungal endophytes; fungal dispersal; fungal culturing

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