Rubber trees are reservoirs of an unexpected diversity of basidiomycetous endophytes!

This paper in Mycologia reports research by Master’s student Rachael Martin in collaboration with post-doc Romina Gazis, who discovered that many of the basidiomycetous endophytes of Hevea brasiliensis are white rot members of the Polyporales. This one study has really expanded my concept of the ecological roles of these ‘saprotrophs’. We are hoping to go back to Peru next year to do a systematic survey of the wood decay and sapwood endophyte communities in Hevea and other tropical trees.

Fungi of Peru

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Martin, R., Gazis, R. O., Skaltsas, D., Chaverri, P., & Hibbett, D. S. (2015). Unexpected diversity of basidiomycetous endophytes in sapwood and leaves of Hevea. Mycologia, 14-206.

Abstract

Research on fungal endophytes has expanded dramatically in recent years, but little is known about the diversity and ecological roles of endophytic basidiomycetes. Here we report the analysis of 310 basidiomycetous endophytes isolated from wild and planted populations of the rubber tree genus, Hevea. Species accumulation curves were nonasymptotic, as in the majority of endophyte surveys, indicating that more sampling is needed to recover the true diversity of the community. One hundred eighteen OTUs were delimited, representing nine orders of Basidiomycota (Agaricales, Atheliales, Auriculariales, Cantharellales, Hymenochaetales, Polyporales, Russulales, Septobasidiales, Tremellales). The diversity of basidiomycetous endophytes found inhabiting wild populations of Hevea was comparable to that present in plantations. However, when samples were segregated by tissue type, sapwood of wild populations…

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