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  1. Abstract

    Closely related species are expected to have similar functional traits due to shared ancestry and phylogenetic inertia. However, few tests of this hypothesis are available for plant‐associated fungal symbionts. Fungal leaf endophytes occur in all land plants and can protect their host plant from disease by a variety of mechanisms, including by parasitizing pathogens (e.g., mycoparasitism). Here, we tested whether phylogenetic relatedness among species ofCladosporium, a widespread genus that includes mycoparasitic species, predicts the effect of this endophyte on the severity of leaf rust disease. First, we used congruence among different marker sequences (i.e., genealogical concordance phylogenetic species recognition criterion) to delimit species ofCladosporium. Next, in a controlled experiment, we quantified both mycoparasitism and disease modification for the selectedCladosporiumspecies. We identified 17 species ofCladosporium; all the species reduced rust disease severity in our experiment.Cladosporiumphylogeny was a significant predictor of mycoparasitism. However, we did not observe a phylogenetic effect on disease severity overall, indicating that other mechanism/s operating independently of shared ancestry also contributed to endophyte effects on disease severity. Indeed, a second experiment showed thatCladosporiumendophyte exudates (no live organism) from divergent species groups equally reduced disease severity. Our results reveal that multiple mechanisms contribute to the protective effects of an endophyte against a plant pathogen, but not all traits underlying these mechanisms are phylogenetically conserved.

     
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  2. Abstract Aim

    Foliar fungi – pathogens, endophytes, epiphytes – form taxonomically diverse communities that affect plant health and productivity. The composition of foliar fungal communities is variable at spatial scales both small (e.g. individual plants) and large (e.g. continents), yet few studies have attempted to tease apart spatial from climatic factors influencing these communities. Moreover, few studies have sampled in more than 1 year to gauge interannual variation in community structure.

    Location

    The Pacific Northwest of western North America.

    Taxon

    Foliar fungi associated with the deciduous treePopulus trichocarpa.

    Methods

    In two consecutive years, we used DNA metabarcoding to characterize foliar fungal communities ofPopulus trichocarpaacross its geographic range, which encompasses a sharp climatic transition as it crosses the Cascade Mountain Range. We used multivariate analyses to (a) test for and differentiate spatial and environmental factors affecting community composition and (b) test for temporal variation in community composition across spatial and environmental gradients.

    Results

    In both study years, we found that foliar fungal community composition varied among sites and between regions (east vs. west of the Cascades). We found that climate explained more variation in community composition than geographic distance, although the majority of variation explained by each was shared. We also found that interannual variation in community composition depended on environmental context: communities located in the dry, eastern portion of the tree's geographic range varied more between study years than those located in the wet, western portion of the tree's range.

    Main conclusions

    Our results suggest that the environment plays a greater role in structuring foliar fungal communities than dispersal limitation.

     
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