Leaves as islands for microbes

L. L. Kinkel, J. H. Andrews, F. M. Berbee, E. V. Nordheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


The equilibrium theory of island biogeography provided a framework for describing the colonization of apple leaf 'islands' by filamentous fungi. Surface sterilization of living leaves in situ by hydrogen peroxide allowed the colonization process to be followed from its inception. Numbers of species of filamentous fungi per leaf fluctuated from 6 to 21 during the first 2 weeks of colonization and equilibrated at about 12 by the third week. Turnover occurred in species composition at equilibrium. The equilibrium number of species was not related to leaf area. The presence of an equilibrium condition with turnover on the leaf surfaces is consistent with two key tenets of the theory of island biogeography. However, the apparent back of a species-area relationship is inconsistent with the island model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-408
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1987


  • Fungi
  • Island biogeography
  • Leaf surface
  • Microbial ecology
  • Phylloplane

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