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Deterministic processes have limited impacts on foliar fungal endophyte communities along a savanna-forest successional gradient
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  • Mathew Harris,
  • Martin Kemler,
  • Bernard Slippers,
  • Samantha-Leigh Jamison-Daniels,
  • Frederick Witfeld,
  • Monique Botha,
  • Dominik Begerow,
  • Andreas Brachmann,
  • Michelle Greve
Mathew Harris
University of Pretoria

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Martin Kemler
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum
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Bernard Slippers
University of Pretoria
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Samantha-Leigh Jamison-Daniels
University of Pretoria
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Frederick Witfeld
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum
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Monique Botha
University of Pretoria
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Dominik Begerow
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum
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Andreas Brachmann
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen
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Michelle Greve
University of Pretoria
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Abstract

Patterns and drivers of succession provide insight into the mechanisms that govern community assembly and are indicators of community resilience and stability but are still poorly understood in microbial communities. We assessed whether the successional trends of woody vegetation are mirrored by foliar fungal endophyte communities of three tree species that are abundant across the woody successional gradient using a total amplicon sequencing approach. Additionally, we test the relative contribution of host identity, abiotic predictors, biotic factors, and spatial distance between sites in predicting community composition and species richness of endophyte communities. Unlike the woody community, endophyte communities showed no consistent evidence of deterministic successional trends. Host identity was the most important factor structuring fungal endophyte community composition. Spatial distance played some role in explaining differences in community composition, but the effects of this and other environmental variables were small and not consistent between different host species. Much of the variation in endophyte composition remained unexplained. Host identity was most important in predicting endophyte richness. Although endophyte communities showed no deterministic succession, community assembly was most strongly influenced by host identity and spatial distance.
24 Jun 2022Submitted to MicrobiologyOpen
27 Jun 2022Assigned to Editor
27 Jun 2022Submission Checks Completed
29 Jun 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending