, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 151-156

Birch family and environmental conditions affect endophytic fungi in leaves

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Abstract

We investigated whether variation in foliar endophyte frequency among mountain birch trees from different maternal families was due in part to genetic differences among trees. The effect of different environmental conditions on the susceptibility of these mountain birch families to foliar endophytes was tested. The 3-year study was conducted in two tree gardens (altitudinal difference 180 m) with ten families of mountain birch. The frequency of the commonest endophytic fungus in mountain birch leaves, Fusicladium sp., was significantly affected by mountain birch family, with the ranking of families relative to Fusicladium sp. frequency being consistent from environment to environment. Variation in the frequency of Melanconium sp. was difficult to interpret because of significant family × garden × year interaction. Fusicladium sp. and Melanconium sp. endophytes were most frequent in different tree individuals, families and gardens. We conclude that mountain birch trees show heritable variation in their foliar endophyte frequency, and thus one of the conditions necessary for foliar endophytes of mountain birch trees to be able to affect the evolution of their host plant is fulfilled. However, the effect of mountain birch family on the frequency of endophytic fungi varies depending on the endophytic genera in question and partially also on environmental conditions.

Received: 28 March 1998 / Accepted: 14 October 1998