Fungal endophyte communities of crucifer crops are seasonally dynamic and structured by plant identity, plant tissue and environmental factors

Junhui Chen, Komivi Senyo Akutse, Hafiz Sohaib Ahmed Saqib, Xiaolu Wu, Feiying Yang, Xiaofeng Xia, Liande Wang, Mark S. Goettel, Minsheng You, Geoff M. Gurr

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Endophytic fungi are important in diverse plant functions but knowledge of the factors that shape assemblages of these symbionts is lacking. Here, using a culture-dependent approach, we report 4,178 endophytic fungal isolates representing 16 orders isolated from stems, roots and leaves of three cruciferous plant species, Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa L.), radish (Raphanus sativus L.) and white cabbage (B. olerocea L.), collected from 21 focal fields with different landscape contexts and pesticide uses during four seasons (summer, autumn, winter and spring). The colonization rate of fungi was found to be most strongly affected by season, plant identity and plant tissue. The colonization was highest during autumn, followed by summer, spring and lowest during winter. The colonization was highest in B. olerocea (53.2%), followed by B. rapa (42.6%), and lowest in R. sativus (35.0%). The colonization was highest in stems (51.9%) in all plant types, followed by leaves (42.4%) and roots (37.5%). Hypocreales was the dominant order (33.3% of all the isolates), followed by Glomerellales (26.5%), Eurotiales (12.1%), Pleosporales (9.8%) and Capnodiales (6.0%). Fungal endophyte abundance (number of isolates) followed the same pattern as colonization rate, while species richness varied with season and host plant tissue. Ordination analyses showed that the abundance and richness of Hypocreales, Eurotiales and Sordariales were associated with plant roots, while Capnodiales, Pleosporales and Trichosphaeriales were associated with spring. Other environmental factors, elevation, and the proportions of grassland, forest, orchard and waterbodies in the surrounding landscape also exerted effects within some categories of other main effects or for certain fungal taxa. Our results indicate that while fungal endophyte communities of crucifer crops vary strongly with the season, they are also strongly structured by plant identity and plant tissue, to a lesser extent by pesticide use and only weakly by landscape composition. The understanding of the ecological roles of fungal endophytes could contribute to habitat management and consequently improve crop pest management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1519
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2020


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