Black spruce (Picea mariana) foliage hosts numerous and potentially endemic fungal endophytes

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Fungal foliar endophytes (hereinafter endophytes) were isolated on malt agar from black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) needles from the Quebec boreal forest during 2 successive years to study their distribution along a latitudinal transect. Twenty sites were sampled in 2002, 8 of which were sampled again in 2003, in an area located between 47°N and 54°N in the province of Quebec. The endophytes were named whenever possible, using homologies of ITS rDNA sequences from GenBank. In 2002, 232 morphotypes were classified in 40 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and in 2003, 93 morphotypes were classified in 16 OTUs, for a total of 44 OTUs. Isolation frequencies of the most common endophyte species were 28% for Lophodermium piceae (Fuchel) Höhn., 17% for Darkera parca Whitney, Reid & Piroz, and 9% for Dwayaangam colodena Sokolski & Bérubé. Of the 44 OTUs identified, 18 were unique to P. mariana and found on one site only, possibly constituting rare endemic species. There was some evidence that needles colonized with rare endophyte species were more abundant in the western and southern regions than in the northern region. This supports our hypothesis that as the diversity of tree species surrounding the P. mariana decrease from the southern region to the northern region, the diversity of endophytes also decreases.

Pour étudier leur distribution latitudinale, des champignons endophytes ont été isolés sur gélose maltée à partir d’aiguilles d’épinette noire (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) de la forêt boréale québécoise au cours de 2 années consécutives. Vingt sites ont été échantillonnés en 2002 et huit en 2003, dans une zone comprise entre 47°N et 54°N au Québec. Lorsque possible, les champignons endophytes ont été identifiés en comparant leurs séquences ITS de l’ADNr avec celles de GenBank. En 2002, 232 types morphologiques ont été classés en 40 unités taxonomiques opérationnelles (UTO) et en 2003, 93 types morphologiques ont été classés en 16 UTO, pour un total de 44 UTO. L’endophyte Lophodermium piceae (Fuchel) Höhn. représente 28 % des isolats, Darkera parca Whitney, Reid & Piroz, 17 % et Dwayaangam colodena Sokolski & Bérubé, 9 %. Parmi les 44 UTO trouvés sur P. mariana, 18 sont spécifiques à cette espèce et n’ont été trouvés que sur un site : ils pourraient constituer des espèces endémiques rares. La proportion d’aiguilles colonisées par l’une des nombreuses espèces rares d’endophytes semblait plus grande dans les régions de l’ouest et du sud que dans celle du nord. L’hypothèse selon laquelle la diminution de la diversité des espèces d’arbres dans les peuplements d’épinette noire du sud au nord s’accompagne d’une diminution de la diversité des endophytes foliaires serait d’autant plus vraisemblable.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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