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Spatial and temporal variation of fungal endophytic richness and diversity associated to the phyllosphere of olive cultivars

Materatski, Patrick, Varanda, Carla, Carvalho, Teresa, Dias, António Bento, Campos, M. Doroteia, Rei, Fernando, Félix, Maria do Rosário
Fungal biology 2019 v.123 no.1 pp. 66-76
Colletotrichum, Olea europaea, antimicrobial properties, autumn, biodiversity, biological control agents, cultivars, disease resistance, endophytes, fungi, olives, phyllosphere, plant growth, plant tissues, spatial distribution, temporal variation, Portugal
Fungal endophytes are micro-organisms that colonize healthy plant tissues without causing disease symptoms. They are described as plant growth and disease resistance promoters and have shown antimicrobial activity. The spatial-temporal distribution of endophytic communities in olive cultivars has been poorly explored. This study aims to investigate the richness and diversity of endophytic fungi in different seasons and sites, within the Alentejo region, Portugal. Additionally, and because the impact of some pathogenic fungi (e.g. Colletotrichum spp.) varies according to olive cultivars; three cultivars, Galega vulgar, Cobrançosa and Azeiteira, were sampled. 1868 fungal isolates were identified as belonging to 26 OTUs; 13 OTUs were identified to the genera level and 13 to species level. Cultivar Galega vulgar and season autumn showed significant higher values in terms of endophytic richness and diversity. At site level, Elvas showed the lowest fungal richness and diversity of fungal endophytes. This study reinforces the importance of exploring the combined spatio-temporal distribution of the endophytic biodiversity in different olive cultivars. Knowledge about endophytic communities may help to better understand their functions in plants hosts, such as their ecological dynamics with pathogenic fungi, which can be explored for their use as biocontrol agents.