Effect of tree host species on fungal community composition in a tropical rain forest in Panama
To determine whether host species influence the composition of fungal communities, the ascomycetes and basidiomycetes present on three tree species (Prioria copaifera (Fabaceae), Quararibea asterolepis (Bombacaceae), and Trichilia tuberculata (Meliaceae)) were sampled on the 50-ha Forest Dynamics Project plot in lowland moist tropical forest on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The most abundant fungal morphotypes of both ascomycetes and basidiomycetes were generalists found on all three hosts, but detrended correspondence analysis revealed distinct differences in fungal community composition among host trees. These differences among hosts were constant across census years. Randomization tests revealed that there were significantly fewer host-generalist fungi than expected for ascomycetes but not for basidiomycetes. These results indicate that host composition plays a role in structuring both ascomycete and basidiomycete fungal communities, but that the most successful fungal morphotypes are capable of colonizing multiple host species.