Habitat-scale heterogeneity maintains fungal endophyte diversity in two native prairie legumes

Mara DeMers, Georgiana May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The assembly of fungal endophyte communities within plants depends on the complex interactions of fungal taxa, their host plants, and the abiotic environment. Prairie plant communities provide a unique avenue to explore the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors affecting endophyte communities, since the historical distribution of prairies spans a broad range of temperature and precipitation, while the distances between small fragments of contemporary prairie communities may challenge the dispersal capabilities of these otherwise ubiquitous fungi. We sampled foliar fungal endophytes from two native prairie legumes, purple and white prairie clovers (Dalea purpurea and D. candida), in 17 remnant prairie sites across Minnesota in order to evaluate the relative contributions of abiotic factors, host species, and dispersal limitation to the diversity and structure of these communities. We found that similarity of communities was significantly associated with their location along a temperature and precipitation gradient, and we showed a distance-decay relationship that suggests dispersal limitations only over very large spatial scales. Although the effect of host species was small relative to these other factors, the two Dalea species maintained distinct communities within sites where they co-occur. Our results illustrate the capacity of many of these endophyte taxa to disperse over large distances and across heterogeneous biotic and abiotic environments and suggest that the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors maintains high diversity observed in endophyte communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-32
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 5 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by an Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund grant from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR 00056811) to R. G. Shaw and G. May, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Macrosystems Biology grant (NSF-DEB 00037623) to G. May (co-Principal Investigators E. Borer, E. Seabloom, L. Kinkel), a grant from the Minnesota Mycological Society, and support from the Plant and Microbial Biology Graduate Program at University of Minnesota to M. DeMers. We thank members of the May laboratory (M. Watson, C. Ndinga-Muniania, K. R. Keller, A. C. Pozzi, J. Deal, M. Beauclaire, E. Daily) and undergraduates (T. Olin, C. Molenaar, A. DeMers) for assistance in conducting laboratory and field research. We thank the May laboratory and D. E. Stanton, P. G. Kennedy, and R. G. Shaw for assistance in analyzing results and for comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Alternaria
  • community assembly
  • dispersal limitation
  • spcies diversity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


Dive into the research topics of 'Habitat-scale heterogeneity maintains fungal endophyte diversity in two native prairie legumes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this