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The biogeographical distribution of microfungi associated with three palm species from tropical and temperate habitats

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The microfungi of three palm species were investigated in their natural habitats and in habitats where the palms were cultivated outside their natural ranges.

The palms that were selected differed in their habitats and ecology. Archontophoenix alexandrae is endemic to tropical rainforests in Australia, Cocos nucifera is pan-tropical and Trachycarpus fortunei occurs in warm-temperate China.

Different assemblages of fungi were found in association with palms in temperate regions as compared to those in tropical regions. These differences were more related to climatic influences than to the hosts sampled, as few fungi were host-species specific.

The status of the hosts at the site, i.e. indigenous or introduced, and the degree of disturbance of the habitats within which the palms grew were also influential.

When sampled in its natural habitat, Archontophoenix alexandrae had a distinct palmicolous mycota typical of other palms in tropical rainforests. Outside of the palm’s natural habitat, a widely different mycota were recorded that comprised tropical species of a more plurivorous nature.

A similar plurivorous assemblage characterized the fungi associated with Cocos nucifera, probably due to the palm’s long history of cultivation.

Similarly, plurivorous, but temperate or widespread fungi were associated with Trachycarpus fortunei, both within and outside of its natural habitat. This palm is also highly cultivated.

A reduction in palm fungi associated with palms in disturbed habitats has implications for conservation of these fungi. However, it is acknowledged that the data for fungal diversity and distribution is incomplete and fragmentary.
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Keywords: Biogeography; microfungi; palms; temperate; tropics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biology and Chemistry, The City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, N.T., Hong Kong

Publication date: 2000-03-01

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