- Genetic Basis of Self-Incompatibility in the Lichen-Forming Fungus Lobaria pulmonaria and Skewed Frequency Distribution of Mating-Type Idiomorphs: Implications for Conservation (2012)
- Fungal populations that reproduce sexually are likely to be genetically more diverse and have a higher adaptive potential than asexually reproducing populations. Mating systems of fungal species can be self-incompatible, requiring the presence of isolates of different mating-type genes for sexual reproduction to occur, or self-compatible, requiring only one. Understanding the distribution of mating-type genes in populations can help to assess the potential of self-incompatible species to reproduce sexually. In the locally threatened epiphytic lichen-forming fungus Lobaria pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm., low frequency of sexual reproduction is likely to limit the potential of populations to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Our study provides direct evidence of self-incompatibility (heterothallism) in L. pulmonaria. It can thus be hypothesized that sexual reproduction in small populations might be limited by an unbalanced distribution of mating-type genes. We therefore assessed neutral genetic diversity (using microsatellites) and mating-type ratio in 27 lichen populations (933 individuals). We found significant differences in the frequency of the two mating types in 13 populations, indicating a lower likelihood of sexual reproduction in these populations. This suggests that conservation translocation activities aiming at maximizing genetic heterogeneity in threatened and declining populations should take into account not only presence of fruiting bodies in transplanted individuals, but also the identity and balanced representation of mating-type genes.
- Host genotype shapes the foliar fungal microbiome of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) (2013)
- Foliar fungal communities of plants are diverse and ubiquitous. In grasses endophytes may increase host fitness; in trees, their ecological roles are poorly understood. We investigated whether the genotype of the host tree influences community structure of foliar fungi. We sampled leaves from genotyped balsam poplars from across the species' range, and applied 454 amplicon sequencing to characterize foliar fungal communities. At the time of the sampling the poplars had been growing in a common garden for two years. We found diverse fungal communities associated with the poplar leaves. Linear discriminant analysis and generalized linear models showed that host genotypes had a structuring effect on the composition of foliar fungal communities. The observed patterns may be explained by a filtering mechanism which allows the trees to selectively recruit fungal strains from the environment. Alternatively, host genotype-specific fungal communities may be present in the tree systemically, and persist in the host even after two clonal reproductions. Both scenarios are consistent with host tree adaptation to specific foliar fungal communities and suggest that there is a functional basis for the strong biotic interaction.