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Open AccessArticle

Tree Diversity Reduces Fungal Endophyte Richness and Diversity in a Large-Scale Temperate Forest Experiment

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Department of Biology, New Mexico Highlands University, 1005 Diamond St., Las Vegas, NM 87701, USA
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Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD 21037, USA
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Botany Department, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Ave., Laramie, WY 82071, USA
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Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(12), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11120234
Received: 7 October 2019 / Revised: 14 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 6 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symbioses and the Biodiversity-Ecosystem Function Relationship)
Although decades of research have typically demonstrated a positive correlation between biodiversity of primary producers and associated trophic levels, the ecological drivers of this association are poorly understood. Recent evidence suggests that the plant microbiome, or the fungi and bacteria found on and inside plant hosts, may be cryptic yet important drivers of important processes, including primary production and trophic interactions. Here, using high-throughput sequencing, we characterized foliar fungal community diversity, composition, and function from 15 broadleaved tree species (N = 545) in a recently established, large-scale temperate tree diversity experiment using over 17,000 seedlings. Specifically, we tested whether increases in tree richness and phylogenetic diversity would increase fungal endophyte diversity (the “Diversity Begets Diversity” hypothesis), as well as alter community composition (the “Tree Diversity–Endophyte Community” hypothesis) and function (the “Tree Diversity–Endophyte Function” hypothesis) at different spatial scales. We demonstrated that increasing tree richness and phylogenetic diversity decreased fungal species and functional guild richness and diversity, including pathogens, saprotrophs, and parasites, within the first three years of a forest diversity experiment. These patterns were consistent at the neighborhood and tree plot scale. Our results suggest that fungal endophytes, unlike other trophic levels (e.g., herbivores as well as epiphytic bacteria), respond negatively to increasing plant diversity. View Full-Text
Keywords: fungal endophytes; biodiversity‒ecosystem function; plant‒microbe interactions; temperate forest; plant microbiome; high-throughput sequencing fungal endophytes; biodiversity‒ecosystem function; plant‒microbe interactions; temperate forest; plant microbiome; high-throughput sequencing
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Griffin, E.A.; Harrison, J.G.; McCormick, M.K.; Burghardt, K.T.; Parker, J.D. Tree Diversity Reduces Fungal Endophyte Richness and Diversity in a Large-Scale Temperate Forest Experiment. Diversity 2019, 11, 234.

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