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A test of the enemy release hypothesis for plants in the Ecological-Botanical Gardens, Bayreuth, using data on plant parasitic microfungi

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Obligatory plant parasitic micromycetes (Chromista, Fungi) are fungi that subsist and grow on living plant tissues. These fungi comprise a considerable portion of global biodiversity and fulfill important ecological functions. Many species and their host spectra are known only insufficiently. Botanic gardens are particularly well suited for studying these fungi due to the variety of potential hosts and the likely fungal introductions via the exchange of plant material between gardens. The enemy-release hypothesis (ERH), which predicts that exotic species tend to be successful in their introduced range because they leave behind their natural enemies, is particularly relevant for botanic gardens, given their cultivation of many neophytes. This study examined whether the neophytes of three selected plant families (Asteraceae, Betulaceae and Rosaceae) in the Ecological-Botanical Gardens (EBG), Bayreuth, Germany, are less frequently infected by parasitic micromycetes than native plant species of the same family. Native plant species of all three families were significantly more often infected by micromycetes than neophytes, strongly supporting the ERH. Remarkably, neophytes were more frequently infected by native micromycetes than by neomycetes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on micromycetes in a botanical garden to examine the ERH. Botanic gardens provide a test for ecological theory that deserves more research also by mycologists and invasion biologists.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2016

This article was made available online on April 1, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "A test of the enemy release hypothesis for plants in the Ecological-Botanical Gardens, Bayreuth, using data on plant parasitic microfungi".

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  • Nova Hedwigia is an international journal publishing original, peer-reviewed papers on current issues of taxonomy, morphology, ultrastructure and ecology of all groups of cryptogamic plants, including cyanophytes/cyanobacteria and fungi. The half-tone plates in Nova Hedwigia are known for their high quality, which makes them especially suitable for the reproduction of photomicrographs and scanning and transmission electron micrographs.
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