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Abstract Detail

The dynamics of evolution in plant and fungal interactions - from communities to genomes

Saunders, Megan [1], Glenn, Anthony [2], Kohn, Linda [1].

Habitat filters in fungal endophyte community assembly.

Fungal endophytes can influence host health, and more broadly, can instigate trophic cascades with effects scaling to the ecosystem level. Despite this, biotic mechanisms of endophyte community assembly are largely unknown. We used maize to investigate three potential habitat filters in endophyte community assembly: host defense compound production, production of such compounds by plant neighbors of the host, and presence of a seed endophyte. Maize (Zea mays) has been selectively bred to produce benzoxazinoids (BXs), compounds toxic to microbes and insects. BX-producing (BX+) and BX-nonproducing (BX) genotypes were used in three field experiments to determine the influence of each factor on endophyte community assembly. In each study, fungi were isolated, identified and tested for tolerance to 2-benzoxazolinone (BOA), a toxic BX byproduct. Data on species diversity and the BOA tolerance of community members was used to characterize the functional diversity of communities. We found that the mean BOA tolerance of communities and mean abundance of Fusarium species, including agents of animal toxicosis, were significantly greater in BX+ than in BX plants. For endophyte communities of BX plants, proximity to BX+ plants had a significant effect on diversity. Communities from BX plants grown in monoculture had higher species diversity than those from BX plants grown in co-culture with BX+ plants. Results from the field and previous in vitro studies indicate that the seed endophyte, F. verticillioides, can detoxify BOA and facilitate colonization by species with low BOA tolerance in BX+ plants. Results from all three studies suggest that increased colonization by Fusarium may be an unintended consequence of selective breeding. Overall, results indicate that both BXs and F. verticillioides are strong habitat filters in endophyte community assembly. Defense compounds are ubiquitous in plants; we provide evidence for their role in structuring endophyte communities.

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1 - University of Toronto, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 3359 Mississauga Rd., Mississauga , ON, L5L 1C6 , Canada
2 - United States Department of Agriculture, Toxicology and Mycotoxin Research Unit, Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, 950 College Station Rd, Athens, GA, 30605, USA

community assembly
habitat filtering
host-parasite interactions
Zea mays
Fungal endophytes.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY2
Location: Ballroom 3/Cliff Lodge - Level B
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009
Time: 10:00 AM
Number: SY2002
Abstract ID:428