All plants associate with a diverse array of microorganisms throughout their tissues, but microbes associated with above- and belowground portions of plants are typically studied separately. Interactions between coniferous plants and their associated microbes provide a good model system for studies bridging this knowledge gap, as conifers host a suite of microorganisms including mutualistic ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi and foliar bacterial endophytes. To investigate the potential role ECM fungi play in structuring foliar bacterial endophyte communities, we sampled three isolated, native populations of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), and used constrained analysis of principal coordinates to relate the community matrices of the ECM fungi and bacterial endophytes. Our results suggest that ECM fungi may be important factors for explaining variation in bacterial endophyte communities but this effect is influenced by population and environmental characteristics, emphasizing the potential importance of other factors — biotic or abiotic — in determining the composition of bacterial communities (Rúa, M.A. et al 2016 Frontiers in Microbiology).
Collaborators: A. Carolin Frank (UC Merced), Jason Hoeksema (University of Mississippi)
Rúa, M.A., Wilson, E.C., Steele, S.*, Munters, A.R.*, Hoeksema, J.D., Frank, A.C. 2016. Ectomycorrhizal fungi structure the bacterial needle endophyte microbiota in Pinus radiata: implications for biotic selection of microbial communities. Frontiers in Microbiology. 7:399. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00399
UC Santa Barbara’s Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Swanton Pacific Ranch