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Endophytic fungal diversity of Fragaria vesca, a crop wild relative of strawberry, along environmental gradients within a small geographical area.


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Fungal endophytes are highly diverse ubiquitous asymptomatic microorganisms, some of which appear to be symbiotic. Depending on abiotic conditions and genotype of the plant, the diversity of endophytes may confer fitness benefits to plant communities. METHODS:We studied a crop wild relative (CWR) of strawberry, along environmental gradients with a view to understand the cultivable root-derived endophytic fungi that can be evaluated for promoting growth and tolerating stress in selected plant groups. The main objectives were to understand whether: (a) suboptimal soil types are drivers for fungal distribution and diversity; (b) high pH and poor nutrient availability lead to fungal-plant associations that help deliver fitness benefits; and (c) novel fungi can be identified for their use in improving plant growth, and alleviate stress in diverse crops. RESULTS:The study revealed that habitats with high pH and low nutrient availability have higher fungal diversity, with more rare fungi isolated from locations with chalky soil. Plants from location G were the healthiest even though soil from this location was the poorest in nutrients. Study of environmental gradients, especially extreme habitat types, may help understand the root zone fungal diversity of different functional classes. Two small in vitro pilot studies conducted with two isolates showed that endophytic fungi from suboptimal habitats can promote plant growth and fitness benefits in selected plant groups. DISCUSSION:Targeting native plants and crop wild relatives for research offers opportunities to unearth diverse functional groups of root-derived endophytic fungi that are beneficial for crops.

SUBMITTER: Yokoya K 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5289447 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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