Spore sensitivity to sunlight and freezing can restrict dispersal in wood-decay fungi.
ABSTRACT: Assessment of the costs and benefits of dispersal is central to understanding species' life-history strategies as well as explaining and predicting spatial population dynamics in the changing world. While mortality during active movement has received much attention, few have studied the costs of passive movement such as the airborne transport of fungal spores. Here, we examine the potential of extreme environmental conditions to cause dispersal mortality in wood-decay fungi. These fungi play a key role as decomposers and habitat creators in forest ecosystems and the populations of many species have declined due to habitat loss and fragmentation. We measured the effect of simulated solar radiation (including ultraviolet A and B) and freezing at -25°C on the spore germinability of 17 species. Both treatments but especially sunlight markedly reduced spore germinability in most species, and species with thin-walled spores were particularly light sensitive. Extrapolating the species' laboratory responses to natural irradiance conditions, we predict that sunlight is a relevant source of dispersal mortality at least at larger spatial scales. In addition, we found a positive effect of spore size on spore germinability, suggesting a trade-off between dispersal distance and establishment. We conclude that freezing and particularly sunlight can be important sources of dispersal mortality in wood-decay fungi which can make it difficult for some species to colonize isolated habitat patches and habitat edges.
Project description:Because of their microscopic size, the forcibly ejected spores of ascomycete fungi are quickly brought to rest by drag. Nonetheless some apothecial species, including the pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, disperse with astonishing rapidity between ephemeral habitats. Here we show that by synchronizing the ejection of thousands of spores, these fungi create a flow of air that carries spores through the nearly still air surrounding the apothecium, around intervening obstacles, and to atmospheric currents and new infection sites. High-speed imaging shows that synchronization is self-organized and likely triggered by mechanical stresses. Although many spores are sacrificed to produce the favorable airflow, creating the potential for conflict among spores, the geometry of the spore jet physically targets benefits of the airflow to spores that cooperate maximally in its production. The ability to manipulate a local fluid environment to enhance spore dispersal is a previously overlooked feature of the biology of fungal pathogens, and almost certainly shapes the virulence of species including S. sclerotiorum. Synchronous spore ejection may also provide a model for the evolution of stable, self-organized behaviors.
Project description:<h4>Background and aims</h4>Initial release height and settling speed of diaspores are biologically controlled components which are key to modelling wind dispersal. Most Sphagnum (peat moss) species have explosive spore liberation. In this study, how capsule and spore sizes affect the height to which spores are propelled were measured, and how spore size and spore number of discharged particles relate to settling speed in the aspherical Sphagnum spores.<h4>Methods</h4>Spore discharge and spore cloud development were filmed in a closed chamber (nine species). Measurements were taken from snapshots at three stages of cloud development. Settling speed of spores (14 species) and clusters were timed in a glass tube.<h4>Key results</h4>The maximum discharge speed measured was 3.6 m s(-1). Spores reached a maximum height of 20 cm (average: 15 cm) above the capsule. The cloud dimensions at all stages were related positively to capsule size (R(2) = 0.58-0.65). Thus species with large shoots (because they have large capsules) have a dispersal advantage. Half of the spores were released as singles and the rest as clusters (usually two to four spores). Single spores settled at 0.84-1.86 cm s(-1), about 52 % slower than expected for spherical spores with the same diameters. Settling speed displayed a positive curvilinear relationship with spore size, close to predictions by Stokes' law for spherical spores with 68 % of the actual diameters. Light-coloured spores settled slower than dark spores. Settling speed of spore clusters agrees with earlier studies. Effective spore discharge and small, slowly settling spores appear particularly important for species in forested habitats.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The spore discharge heights in Sphagnum are among the greatest for small, wind-dispersed propagules. The discharge heights and the slow settling of spores affect dispersal distances positively and may help to explain the wide distribution of most boreal Sphagnum species.
Project description:Fungi disperse spores to move across landscapes and spore liberation takes different patterns. Many species release spores intermittently; others release spores at specific times of day. Despite intriguing evidence of periodicity, why (and if) the timing of spore release would matter to a fungus remains an open question. Here we use state-of-the-art numerical simulations of atmospheric transport and meteorological data to follow the trajectory of many spores in the atmosphere at different times of day, seasons, and locations across North America. While individual spores follow unpredictable trajectories due to turbulence, in the aggregate patterns emerge: Statistically, spores released during the day fly for several days, whereas spores released at night return to ground within a few hours. Differences are caused by intense turbulence during the day and weak turbulence at night. The pattern is widespread but its reliability varies; for example, day/night patterns are stronger in southern regions. Results provide testable hypotheses explaining both intermittent and regular patterns of spore release as strategies to maximize spore survival in the air. Species with short-lived spores reproducing where there is strong turbulence during the day, for example in Mexico, maximize survival by releasing spores at night. Where cycles are weak, for example in Canada during fall, there is no benefit to releasing spores at the same time every day. Our data challenge the perception of fungal dispersal as risky, wasteful, and beyond control of individuals; our data suggest the timing of spore liberation may be finely tuned to maximize fitness during atmospheric transport.
Project description:Small forest dwelling mammals are considered to be major consumers and vectors of hypogeous ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, which have lost the ability of active spore discharge. Fungal spore dispersal by mycophagy is deemed an important process involved in forest regeneration, resilience and vitality, primarily based on evidence from Australia and the Pacific Northwestern USA, but is poorly known for Central European mountainous forests thus far. Small mammal mycophagy was investigated by live trapping and microscopical analysis of faecal samples. All small mammal species recorded (Myodes glareolus, Microtus agrestis, Pitymys subterraneus, Apodemus spp., Glis glis, Sorex spp.) had ingested spores of ECM fungi, albeit in varying amounts. My. glareolus was found to be the most important vector of ECM fungal spores, both in quantity and diversity. Species of the genus Sorex seem to play a hitherto underestimated role as dispersers of fungal spores. Glis glis is likely to be an important vector owing to its large home range. Hypogeous ECM basidiomycetes accounted for most spores found in the faecal samples. The frequency of various genera of hypogeous ECM ascomycetes and ECM epigeous fungi was much lower. Comparison with null models indicated a non-random structure of the mycophagy network similar to other mutualistic bipartite networks. Mycophagy can be considered (1) to contribute to nutrition of small forest mammals, (2) to play a pivotal role for forest regeneration and functioning by providing mycorrhizal inoculum to tree seedlings and (3) to be vital for reproduction and diversity of the still poorly known hypogeous fungi.
Project description:Most mosses have xerochastic dispersal (i.e., they open their capsules when conditions are dry), which is thought to favor long-distance dispersal. However, there are several species that use a hygrochastic strategy: spores are dispersed when conditions are wet. The significance of this strategy in the Mediterranean region is unknown. In this study, we explored whether ultrastructural features related to differences in spore resistance may explain these different strategies of spore dispersal. To this end, we examined the ultrastructural features of the spores of seven closely related species in the moss genus Orthotrichum. These species all grow as epiphytes in sub-Mediterranean forests, and the group includes both xerochastic and hygrochastic members. First, we found that the spore wall layers exhibit several features previously undescribed in mosses. Second, we discovered that there are only subtle differences in spore ultrastructure with regards to spore wall thickness, the degree of plastid development, or the storage substances used. We suggest that the hygrochastic dispersal in mosses from Mediterranean environments might be related to a safe-site strategy, rather than to drought avoidance, and we underscore the necessity of conducting spore ultrastructural studies on a greater number of bryophyte species.
Project description:BACKGROUND: A conventional tenet of classical genetics is that progeny inherit half their genome from each parent in sexual reproduction instead of the complete genome transferred to each daughter during asexual reproduction. The transmission of hereditary characteristics from parents to their offspring is therefore predictable, although several exceptions are known. Heredity in microorganisms, however, can be very complex, and even unknown as is the case for coenocytic organisms such as Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF). This group of fungi are plant-root symbionts, ubiquitous in most ecosystems, which reproduce asexually via multinucleate spores for which sexuality has not yet been observed. RESULTS: We examined the number of nuclei per spore of four AMF taxa using high Z-resolution live confocal microscopy and found that the number of nuclei was correlated with spore diameter. We show that AMF have the ability, through the establishment of new symbioses, to pass hundreds of nuclei to subsequent generations of multinucleated spores. More importantly, we observed surprising heterogeneity in the number of nuclei among sister spores and show that massive nuclear migration and mitosis are the mechanisms by which AMF spores are formed. We followed spore development of Glomus irregulare from hyphal swelling to spore maturity and found that the spores reached mature size within 30 to 60 days, and that the number of nuclei per spores increased over time. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the spores used for dispersal of AMF contain nuclei with two origins, those that migrate into the spore and those that arise by mitosis in the spore. Therefore, these spores do not represent a stage in the life cycle with a single nucleus, raising the possibility that AMF, unlike all other known eukaryotic organisms, lack the genetic bottleneck of a single-nucleus stage.
Project description:Dispersal is a fundamental biological process that can be divided into three phases: release, transportation, and deposition. Determining the mechanisms of diaspore release is of prime importance to understand under which climatic conditions and at which frequency diaspores are released and transported. In mosses, wherein spore dispersal takes place through the hygroscopic movements of the peristome, the factors enhancing spore release has received little attention. Here, we determine the levels of relative humidity (RH) at which peristome movements are induced, contrasting the response of species with perfect (fully developed) and specialized (reduced) peristomes. All nine investigated species with perfect peristomes displayed a xerochastic behavior, initiating a closing movement from around 50%-65% RH upon increasing humidity and an opening movement from around 90% RH upon drying. Five of the seven species with specialized peristomes exhibited a hygrochastic behavior, initiating an opening movement under increasing RH (from about 80%) and a closing movement upon drying (from about 90%). These differences between species with hygrochastic and xerochastic peristomes suggest that spore dispersal does not randomly occur regardless of the prevailing climate conditions, which can impact their dispersal distances. In species with xerochastic peristomes, the release of spores under decreasing RH can be interpreted as an adaptive mechanism to disperse spores under optimal conditions for long-distance wind dispersal. In species with hygrochastic peristomes, conversely, the release of spores under wet conditions, which decreases their wind long-distance dispersal capacities, might be seen as a safe-site strategy, forcing spores to land in appropriate (micro-) habitats where their survival is favored. Significant variations were observed in the RH thresholds triggering peristome movements among species, especially in those with hygrochastic peristomes, raising the question of what mechanisms are responsible for such differences.
Project description:Obtaining reliable and representative mushroom production data requires time-consuming sampling schemes. In this paper, we assessed a simple methodology to detect mushroom emergence by trapping the fungal spores of the fruiting body community in plots where mushroom production was determined weekly. We compared the performance of filter paper traps with that of funnel traps and combined these spore trapping methods with species-specific quantitative real-time PCR and Illumina MiSeq to determine the spore abundance. Significantly more MiSeq proportional reads were generated for both ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal species using filter traps than were obtained using funnel traps. The spores of 37 fungal species that produced fruiting bodies in the study plots were identified. Spore community composition changed considerably over time due to the emergence of ephemeral fruiting bodies and rapid spore deposition (lasting from 1 to 2 weeks), which occurred in the absence of rainfall events. For many species, the emergence of epigeous fruiting bodies was followed by a peak in the relative abundance of their airborne spores. There were significant positive relationships between fruiting body yields and spore abundance in time for five of seven fungal species. There was no relationship between fruiting body yields and their spore abundance at plot level, indicating that some of the spores captured in each plot were arriving from the surrounding areas. Differences in fungal detection capacity by spore trapping may indicate different dispersal ability between fungal species. Further research can help to identify the spore rain patterns for most common fungal species.IMPORTANCE Mushroom monitoring represents a serious challenge in economic and logistical terms because sampling approaches demand extensive field work at both the spatial and temporal scales. In addition, the identification of fungal taxa depends on the expertise of experienced fungal taxonomists. Similarly, the study of fungal dispersal has been constrained by technological limitations, especially because the morphological identification of spores is a challenging and time-consuming task. Here, we demonstrate that spores from ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal species can be identified using simple spore traps together with either MiSeq fungus-specific amplicon sequencing or species-specific quantitative real-time PCR. In addition, the proposed methodology can be used to characterize the airborne fungal community and to detect mushroom emergence in forest ecosystems.
Project description:Animal dispersal influences the community structure and diversity of a wide variety of plant taxa, yet the potential effects of animal dispersal in bryophytes (hornworts, liverworts, and mosses) is poorly understood. In many communities, birds use bryophyte-abundant niche space for foraging and gathering nest material, suggesting that birds may play a role in bryophyte dispersal. As highly motile animals with long migratory routes, birds potentially provide a means for both local and long-distance bryophyte dispersal in a manner that differs greatly from passive, aerial spore dispersal. To examine this phenomenon, we collected and germinated bryophyte propagules from the legs, feet and tails of 224 birds from 34 species within a temperate forest community. In total we found 1512 spores, and were able to germinate 242 bryophyte propagules. In addition, we provide evidence that topical (externally-carried) spore load varies by bird species and behaviour. Tail feather spore abundance is highest in bark and foliage gleaning species and is positively correlated with tarsal length. Together, these data suggest that a variety of forest birds exhibit the potential to act as dispersal vectors for bryophyte propagules, including an abundance of spores, and that understanding the effects of animal behaviour on bryophyte dispersal will be key to further understanding this interaction.
Project description:The settling velocity of diaspores is a key parameter for the measurement of dispersal ability in wind-dispersed plants and one of the most relevant parameters in explicit dispersal models, but remains largely undocumented in bryophytes. The settling velocities of moss spores were measured and it was determined whether settling velocities can be derived from spore diameter using Stokes' Law or if specific traits of spore ornamentation cause departures from theoretical expectations.A fall tower design combined with a high-speed camera was used to document spore settling velocities in nine moss species selected to cover the range of spore diameters within the group. Linear mixed effect models were employed to determine whether settling velocity can be predicted from spore diameter, taking specific variation in shape and surface roughness into account.Average settling velocity of moss spores ranged from 0·49 to 8·52?cm s(-1) There was a significant positive relationship between spore settling velocity and size, but the inclusion of variables of shape and texture of spores in the best-fit models provides evidence for their role in shaping spore settling velocities.Settling velocities in mosses can significantly depart from expectations derived from Stokes' Law. We suggest that variation in spore shape and ornamentation affects the balance between density and drag, and results in different dispersal capacities, which may be correlated with different life-history traits or ecological requirements. Further studies on spore ultrastructure would be necessary to determine the role of complex spore ornamentation patterns in the drag-to-mass ratio and ultimately identify what is the still poorly understood function of the striking and highly variable ornamentation patterns of the perine layer on moss spores.