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Abstract Detail

Phylogenetic and functional patterns of host plants and their associated fungi: implications for symbiotic co-evolution, community interactions, and ecosystem processes

Lamit, Louis J. [2], Johnson, Nancy C. [1], Gehring, Catherine A. [2], Wilson, Gail W.T.  [3], Sthultz, Christopher  [4].

Ecological and evolutionary implications of plant-fungal interactions at the intraspecific level.

Plants and fungi have been interacting since the origin of land plants and it is likely that these interactions have helped shape the diversity and evolutionary history of the two kingdoms. However, because the life histories of plants and fungi can be so different, we still have a poor understanding of the most relevant scale of organization at which to study their interactions. Most studies attempting to understand the interactions between plants, fungi and their environment have focused on species or higher levels of organization. Here, we utilize observational and experimental data from grassland, riparian and woodland ecosystems to show that intraspecific variation within both plants and fungi influences the formation and function of plant-fungal interactions. Results from these studies show that: 1) Genetic variation within species of plants affects diverse groups of associated fungi while genetic variation within fungal species can strongly influence plant performance. These results indicate that the interacting unit among plants and fungi may not be the species, but the genotype, 2) Plant characteristics that are important for interactions with fungi can be hereditary and lead to similar interactions in subsequent generations, and 3) Genetically based variation in interactions can be selected upon and lead to local adaptation between plants and their fungal communities. These findings suggest that co-adaptation among plants and fungi may occur at finer scales of organization in natural systems than previously appreciated. In addition, the strong potential for co-adaptation among plants and fungi below the species level has important implications for endeavors in which matching plant and fungal genotypes may be important such as in ecosystem restoration and the management of the mycorrhizal symbiosis in agricultural systems.

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1 - Northern Arizona University, Center for Environmental Sciences and Education & Department of Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 5694, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, USA
2 - Northern Arizona University , Department of Biological Sciences, PO Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ , 86011, USA
3 - Oklahoma State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management, Stillwater, OK, 74077, USA
4 - Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive CNRS, Umr 5175, 1919 Route de Mende, Montpellier, 34 293 , France

local adaptation
plant-fungal interactions.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY13
Location: Rendezvous A/Snowbird Center
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Time: 1:45 PM
Number: SY13002
Abstract ID:882