The Endophytic Mycoflora of Bark, Leaf, and Stem Tissues of Azadirachta indica A. Juss (Neem) from Varanasi (India)
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A systematic study was made of the endophytes of Azadirachta indica A. Juss (the neem tree) growing in several of its natural habitats in India. A total of 233 isolates of endophytic fungi representing 18 fungal taxa were obtained from segments of bark, stem, and leaves of this tree. Hyphomycetes (62.2%) were the most prevalent followed by the Coelomycetes (27.4%) and Mycelia Sterilia (7.7%). As mathematically determined, the maximum species richness and frequency of colonization of endophytes appeared in leaf segments rather than stem and bark tissues from each location. Endophytic colonization frequency was also greater in leaves (45.5%) than bark (31.5%). The leaf samples from all locations were nearly constant in their endophytic composition, whereas bark samples showed maximum diversity at different locations. Inter-site comparisons for endophytic diversity, however, were not significantly different with Loc1 and Loc2 having a maximum of 66.67% Jc. The smallest similarity was between Loc2 and Loc3 of 54.17% Jc. The dominant endophytic fungi isolated were Phomopsis oblonga, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Pestalotiopsis sp., Trichoderma sp, and Aspergillus sp. Genera such as Periconia, Stenella, and Drechslera are reported here for the first time as endophytes from this host plant. This report illustrates the value of sampling different tissues of a given plant in several locations to obtain the greatest species diversity of endophytes. The rich and sizeable collection of endophytic fungi from this specific plant may represent a unique source of one or more of the interesting and useful bioactive compounds normally associated with A. indica such as the azadirachtins and related tetranortriterpenoids.