Fungal endophytes may alter plant responses to the environment, but how does the environment affect the communities of fungal symbionts within plants? We examined the impact of nutrient addition and herbivore exclusion on endophyte communities of the prairie grass Andropogon gerardii in a full factorial field experiment. Fungi were cultured from stems, young leaves, and mature leaves, ITS sequences obtained, and endophyte incidence, community richness, and composition analyzed. Results indicate that in plots where nutrient addition and herbivore exclusion treatments had been applied separately, fungal endophyte incidence, community composition or evenness did not differ, but that greater species richness was observed in plots with nutrient addition and herbivore exclusion treatments applied in combination, compared to other treatments. Further, although fungal community composition was significantly different in stem and leaf tissues, OTU richness was greater in all endophyte communities in nutrient addition plus herbivore exclusion treatments, regardless of tissue type. Our results indicate the distinct fungal endophyte communities found in different plant tissues respond similarly to environmental factors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank members of the May lab for help collecting and processing samples, and obtaining sequence data, as well as feedback on earlier drafts of the manuscript. We thank members of the Bushley lab for their bioinformatics expertise. This work was supported by a grant from NSF MSB ( 00037623 ) to G. May (E. Borer PI, E. Seabloom, L. Kinkel, co-PIs).
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- Fungal community ecology
- Fungal endophytes
- Microbial symbiont community assembly
- Nutrient addition