Ecological and functional effects of fungal endophytes on wood decomposition

Lauren C. Cline, Jonathan S Schilling, Jon Menke, Emily Groenhof, Peter G Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite the central role of saprotrophic fungi in wood decomposition and terrestrial carbon cycling, the diversity and functioning of wood endophytes (i.e. fungi that asymptomatically colonize living plant tissue) on decay remains poorly understood. In a 4-year field experiment in a boreal forest in the upper midwestern United States, we investigated whether endophytes influenced fungal community structure and subsequent wood decomposition via priority effects. We compared decay of sterilized and non-sterilized birch (Betula papyrifera) logs using both high-throughput sequencing and wood physiochemical analyses (i.e. density loss, dilute alkali solubility, ratio of lignin loss relative to density loss). Endophyte presence significantly altered initial fungal species composition during the first 2 years and enhanced mass loss over the experiment's duration. Results suggest that following tree death the immediate utilization of organic substrates by wood endophytes significantly alters establishment patterns of later arriving fungal saprotrophs. Independent of endophyte presence, white rot was the wood decay outcome at all sampling times, despite an initial presence of both brown and white rot fungi. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that wood endophytes can affect early community assembly and subsequent decay rates, although environmental filtering leads to consistent selection for fungi with lignin-targeted decay strategies. A plain language summary is available for this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

decayed wood
endophyte
endophytes
decomposition
deterioration
fungus
fungi
lignin
brown-rot fungi
white-rot fungi
Midwestern United States
fungal communities
tree mortality
boreal forests
Betula
alkalis
plant tissues
effect
solubility
community structure

Keywords

  • endophyte
  • fungal community
  • historical contingency
  • priority effects
  • wood decomposition

Cite this

Ecological and functional effects of fungal endophytes on wood decomposition. / Cline, Lauren C.; Schilling, Jonathan S; Menke, Jon; Groenhof, Emily; Kennedy, Peter G.

In: Functional Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 1, 01.01.2018, p. 181-191.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cline, Lauren C. ; Schilling, Jonathan S ; Menke, Jon ; Groenhof, Emily ; Kennedy, Peter G. / Ecological and functional effects of fungal endophytes on wood decomposition. In: Functional Ecology. 2018 ; Vol. 32, No. 1. pp. 181-191.
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