Diversity of root-associated fungal endophytes in Rhododendron fortunei in subtropical forests of China
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To investigate the diversity of root endophytes in Rhododendron fortunei, fungal strains were isolated from the hair roots of plants from four habitats in subtropical forests of China. In total, 220 slow-growing fungal isolates were isolated from the hair roots of R. fortunei. The isolates were initially grouped into 17 types based on the results of internal transcribed spacer-restriction fragment length polymorphism (ITS-RFLP) analysis. ITS sequences were obtained for representative isolates from each RFLP type and compared phylogenetically with known sequences of ericoid mycorrhizal endophytes and selected ascomycetes or basidiomycetes. Based on phylogenetic analysis of the ITS sequences in GenBank, 15 RFLP types were confirmed as ascomycetes, and two as basidiomycetes; nine of these were shown to be ericoid mycorrhizal endophytes in experimental cultures. The only common endophytes of R. fortunei were identified as Oidiodendron maius at four sites, although the isolation frequency (3–65%) differed sharply according to habitat. Phialocephala fortinii strains were isolated most abundantly from two habitats which related to the more acidic soil and pine mixed forests. A number of less common mycorrhizal RFLP types were isolated from R. fortunei at three, two, or one of the sites. Most of these appeared to have strong affinities for some unidentified root endophytes from Ericaceae hosts in Australian forests. We concluded that the endophyte population isolated from R. fortunei is composed mainly of ascomycete, as well as a few basidiomycete strains. In addition, one basidiomycete strain was confirmed as a putative ericoid mycorrhizal fungus.
KeywordsRhododendron fortunei L. Fungal diversity Ericoid endophyte Ericoid mycorrhizal fungi
We thank Prof. Runjin Liu (Institute Of Mycorrhizal Biotechnology Qingdao Agricultural University) for critical advice on the manuscript. Funding for this research was provided by Shanghai Landscape Bureau (Grand No. ZX050208).
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