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Low diversity and abundance of root endophytes prevail throughout the life cycle of an annual halophyte

Maciá-Vicente, Jose G., Nau, Thomas, Piepenbring, Meike
Mycological progress 2016 v.15 no.12 pp. 1303-1311
Pleosporales, Salicornia, endophytes, flowering, fungi, halophytes, lifestyle, roots, saline soils, salt stress
Plants growing in highly saline soils harbor unique communities of fungal root endophytes. We aimed to gain insight into how these communities are established in natural plant populations. We used cultivation-based and molecular approaches to examine root-endophytic colonization in the annual halophyte Salicornia patula at three time points over a 5-month period, from establishment to flowering. At the last sampling, the endophytic community of S. patula was compared to that in the related but perennial halophyte Arthrocnemum macrostachyum. The presence of root endophytes in S. patula was negligible at the first two sampling times, and remained low at the last sampling compared to A. macrostachyum. The latter species showed a well-established endophytic community in its roots that differed from that in S. patula, which was dominated by members of Pleosporales. Although such differences could be partially due to the host lifestyle, the possibility of a strong effect of the substratum could not be excluded. Altogether, our data indicate that the fungal endophytic colonization of roots is a slow process under salt stress. Therefore, we suggest that, in contrast to what is proposed for other systems, endophyte symbioses are unlikely to impact the development of the short-life-cycled S. patula living in these environments.