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In vitro degradation of the moss Hylocomium splendens by three pleosporalean fungi

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Three darkly pigmented species of conidial fungi of the family Pleosporaceae isolated from plants colonizing the Saskatchewan Glacier forefield were examined for potential roles in the degradation of moss gametophytes. Curvularia inaequalis and Ulocladium atrum isolated from bryophytes Ditrichum flexicaule and Tortella tortuosa, respectively, and Chalastospora gossypii from Saxifraga oppositifolia were inoculated onto autoclaved gametophytes of the moss Hylocomium splendens. All three species of fungi caused mass losses of the moss gametophytes. In vitro enzymatic tests revealed that all three fungi degraded cellulose, while none degraded insoluble polyphenols. When this material was examined by scanning electron microscopy, it was evident that the fungi had eroded the outer wall layer of the moss leaf cells to some extent but not the inner layer containing more lignin-like compounds. Once the outer wall layer was removed, the cells easily disarticulated. It is proposed that accumulations of these phenolics-rich leaf fragments subsequently ameliorate the rooting environment for vascular plants and have the potential to support the growth of basidiomycetes and other fungi, potentially mycorrhizal with pioneer vascular plants.

Keywords: Hylocomium splendens; Pleosporaceae; decomposition; décomposition

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/w11-024

Publication date: May 4, 2011

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  • Published since 1954, this monthly journal contains new research in the field of microbiology including applied microbiology and biotechnology; microbial structure and function; fungi and other eucaryotic protists; infection and immunity; microbial ecology; physiology, metabolism and enzymology; and virology, genetics, and molecular biology. It also publishes review articles and notes on an occasional basis, contributed by recognized scientists worldwide.
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