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  1. Abstract Background While a considerable amount of research has explored plant community composition in primary successional systems, little is known about the microbial communities inhabiting these pioneer plant species. Fungal endophytes are ubiquitous within plants, and may play major roles in early successional ecosystems. Specifically, endophytes have been shown to affect successional processes, as well as alter host stress tolerance and litter decomposition dynamics—both of which are important components in harsh environments where soil organic matter is still scarce. Results To determine possible contributions of fungal endophytes to plant colonization patterns, we surveyed six of the most common woody speciesmore »on the Pumice Plain of Mount St. Helens (WA, USA; Lawetlat'la in the Cowlitz language; created during the 1980 eruption)—a model primary successional ecosystem—and found low colonization rates (< 15%), low species richness, and low diversity. Furthermore, while endophyte community composition did differ among woody species, we found only marginal evidence of temporal changes in community composition over a single field season (July–September). Conclusions Our results indicate that even after a post-eruption period of 40 years, foliar endophyte communities still seem to be in the early stages of community development, and that the dominant pioneer riparian species Sitka alder ( Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata ) and Sitka willow ( Salix sitchensis ) may be serving as important microbial reservoirs for incoming plant colonizers.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Litter decomposition rates are affected by a variety of abiotic and biotic factors, including the presence of fungal endophytes in host plant tissues. This review broadly analyzes the findings of 67 studies on the roles of foliar endophytes in litter decomposition, and their effects on decomposition rates. From 29 studies and 1 review, we compiled a comprehensive table of 710 leaf-associated fungal taxa, including the type of tissue these taxa were associated with and isolated from, whether they were reported as endo- or epiphytic, and whether they had reported saprophytic abilities. Aquatic (i.e., in-stream) decomposition studies of endophyte-affected litter weremore »significantly under-represented in the search results (p < 0.0001). Indicator species analyses revealed that different groups of fungal endophytes were significantly associated with cool or tropical climates, as well as specific plant host genera (p < 0.05). Finally, we argue that host plant and endophyte interactions can significantly influence litter decomposition rates and should be considered when interpreting results from both terrestrial and in-stream litter decomposition experiments.« less
  3. In the Pacific Northwest, Alnus rubra Bong. (red alder) is a common deciduous tree species especially prevalent in riparian corridors and disturbed sites, including metropolitan areas undergoing land use changes and development. Importantly, red alder is also considered a bioindicator for ozone pollution and, like all plants, harbors a diverse endophyte community that may interact with aerial pollutants. In this study, we surveyed foliar fungal endophyte communities (microfungi) in red alder leaves from the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, USA, using culture-based techniques, and found that communities differed significantly by site. Our results suggest that the fungal endophyte community compositionmore »in red alder leaves may be influenced in part by local air pollution sources, likely in conjunction with other site characteristics. As urban areas expand, more studies should focus on how the urban environment affects plant–microbe community ecology and endophyte–host interactions, as well as on the long-term consequences for other ecosystem processes such as leaf litter decomposition.« less
  4. Global climate change and local anthropogenic activities are increasing soil salinization with permanent negative effects on agricultural and ecosystem productivity. While salt stress is known to affect plant performance, its effects on the association with key microbial plant symbionts, such as legume-associated nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, are less understood. In this field study conducted in Costa Rica (Puntarenas), we used sympatrically-occurring wild lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.) and Bradyrhizobium to quantify biomass production of unfertilized rhizobial (R+) and fertilized rhizobia-free (R-) plants at different levels of experimentally manipulated salinity in native soil. In response to salt stress, nodulation was significantly reduced evenmore »at slightly increased salt levels. Plants growing at soil salinity levels of 2, 4, 6, and 8 mS/cm showed a mean reduction of nodules by 60.22, 76.52, 83.98, and 92.5% compared to the controls. Similarly, we also observed a significant decline in plant biomass at elevated salinity. However, biomass accumulation of R- plants was significantly less impacted compared to R+ plants, suggesting that the plant-microbe symbiosis is more salt-sensitive than the plant host itself. We suggest that the search for more salt-tolerant, crop plant-compatible rhizobial strains may provide a sustainable approach to maintain agricultural productivity on low to moderately saline soils.« less
  5. Jasmonates are important phytohormones involved in both plant developmental processes as well as defense reactions. Many JA-mediated plant defense responses have been studied in model plants using mutants of the jasmonate signaling pathway. However, in plant species where JA-signaling mutants are not accessible, the availability of a tool targeting JA signaling is crucial to investigate jasmonate-dependent processes. Neomycin is a poly-cationic aminoglycoside antibiotic that blocks the release of Ca2+ from internal stores. We examined the inhibitory activities of neomycin on different jasmonate-inducible responses in eight different plant species: Intracellular calcium measurements in Nicotiana tabacum cell culture, Sporamin gene induction inmore »Ipomoea batatas, PDF2.2 gene expression in Triticum aestivum, Nepenthesin protease activity measurement in Nepenthes alata, extrafloral nectar production in Phaseolus lunatus, nectary formation in Populus trichocarpa, terpene accumulation in Picea abies, and secondary metabolite generation in Nicotiana attenuata. We are able to show that neomycin, an easily manageable and commercially available compound, inhibits JA-mediated responses across the plant kingdom.« less