Relationships between foliar fungal endophyte communities and ecophysiological traits of CAM and C3 epiphytic bromeliads in a neotropical rainforest
Vascular epiphytes contribute up to 35% of the plant diversity and foliar biomass of flowering plants. The family Bromeliaceae is a monophyletic group of plants native to the Neotropics. Epiphytic bromeliads form associations with distinct groups of organisms but their relationship with foliar fungal endophytes remain underexplored. In this study we examined the relationship of foliar fungal endophytes to host photosynthetic pathways and associated ecophysiological traits. We sampled the fungal endophyte communities of 67 host individuals in six epiphytic bromeliad species differing in C3 and crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthetic pathways. We tested whether endophyte assemblages were associated with ecophysiological leaf traits related to host photosynthetic pathways. Our results indicate that (1) C3 and CAM bromeliads host dissimilar endophyte assemblages, (2) endophyte communities in C3 bromeliads are characterized by variable relative abundances of fungal orders; conversely, CAM associated endophyte communities were characterized by consistent relative abundances of fungal orders, and (3) endophyte communities in bromeliads are distributed along a continuum of leaf toughness and leaf water content. Taken together, our study suggests that host physiology and associated ecophysiological traits of epiphytic bromeliads may represent biotic filters for communities of fungal endophytes in the tropics.
Tellez, Peter H.; Woods, Carrie L.; Formel, Stephen; and Van Bael, Sunshine A., "Relationships between foliar fungal endophyte communities and ecophysiological traits of CAM and C3 epiphytic bromeliads in a neotropical rainforest" (2020).