Maple and hickory leaf litter fungal communities reflect pre-senescent leaf communities

January 27, 2022 - Author: Julian A. Liber, Douglas H. Minier, Anna Stouffer-Hopkins, Judson Van Wyk, Reid Longley, Gregory Bonito


Fungal communities are known to contribute to the functioning of living plant microbiomes as well as to the decay of dead plant material and affect vital ecosystem services, such as pathogen resistance and nutrient cycling. Yet, factors that drive structure and function of phyllosphere mycobiomes and their fate in leaf litter are often ignored. We sought to determine the factors contributing to the composition of communities in temperate forest substrates, with culture-independent amplicon sequencing of fungal communities of pre-senescent leaf surfaces, internal tissues, leaf litter, underlying humus soil of co-occurring red maple (Acer rubrum) and shagbark hickory (Carya ovata). Paired samples were taken at five sites within a temperate forest in southern Michigan, USA. Fungal communities were differentiable based on substrate, host species, and site, as well as all two-way and three-way interactions of these variables. PERMANOVA analyses and co-occurrence of taxa indicate that soil communities are unique from both phyllosphere and leaf litter communities. Correspondence of endophyte, epiphyte, and litter communities suggests dispersal plays an important role in structuring fungal communities. Future work will be needed to assess how this dispersal changes microbial community functioning in these niches.

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