Cryptic functional diversity within a grass mycobiome

Cedric Ndinga-Muniania, Nicholas Wornson, Michael R. Fulcher, Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, Linda Kinkel, Georgiana May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eukaryotic hosts harbor tremendously diverse microbiomes that affect host fitness and response to environmental challenges. Fungal endophytes are prominent members of plant microbiomes, but we lack information on the diversity in functional traits affecting their interactions with their host and environment. We used two culturing approaches to isolate fungal endophytes associated with the widespread, dominant prairie grass Andropogon gerardii and characterized their taxonomic diversity using rDNA barcode sequencing. A randomly chosen subset of fungi representing the diversity of each leaf was then evaluated for their use of different carbon compound resources and growth on those resources. Applying community phylogenetic analyses, we discovered that these fungal endophyte communities are comprised of phylogenetically distinct assemblages of slow- and fast-growing fungi that differ in their use and growth on differing carbon substrates. Our results demonstrate previously undescribed and cryptic functional diversity in carbon resource use and growth in fungal endophyte communities of A. gerardii.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0287990
JournalPloS one
Issue number7 July
StatePublished - Jul 2023

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