Fungal Diversity

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 139–151

No plant functional diversity effects on foliar fungal pathogens in experimental tree communities

  • Lydia Hantsch
  • Uwe Braun
  • Josephine Haase
  • Oliver Purschke
  • Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
  • Helge Bruelheide
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s13225-013-0273-2

Cite this article as:
Hantsch, L., Braun, U., Haase, J. et al. Fungal Diversity (2014) 66: 139. doi:10.1007/s13225-013-0273-2

Abstract

Foliar fungal pathogens affect forest ecosystem processes by exerting highly species-specific impacts on growth and survival of trees. As many ecosystem processes in forests depend on functional diversity of specific tree species, a close relationship is expected between this and foliar fungal pathogen infestation. Testing for such a relationship in the German tree diversity experiment BIOTREE (Bechstedt), we hypothesized that pathogen richness and pathogen load decline with increasing functional diversity of tree communities. Using macro- and microscopic analyses, we assessed pathogen richness and load on 16 tree species in plots that, although differing in functional diversity, had the same tree species richness. We found no effects of functional diversity on pathogen richness or load. However, we encountered strong species identity effects in plot species composition, as susceptible tree species contributed positively to each community’s pathogen richness and load. Furthermore, testing for effects of particular leaf traits and geographical range size of host species revealed a significant effect of total leaf phenolics, which was unexpected as pathogen richness increased with increasing content in polyphenolics. Our study showed that at the community level, host species’ identity was more important for foliar fungal pathogen richness and load than the functional diversity of host trees. The positive relationship between pathogen richness and phenolics in leaves, along with the finding that pathogen richness is very much conserved in tree species, point to an evolutionary arms race between hosts and fungi resulting from fungi increasing their capacity to infect tree leaves and trees boosting their defences.

Keywords

Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning BIOTREE experiment Host defence traits Phylogenetic pattern Polyphenolics Tree species identity effects 

Supplementary material

13225_2013_273_MOESM1_ESM.docx (4.2 mb)
ESM 1(DOCX 4283 kb)

Copyright information

© Mushroom Research Foundation 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lydia Hantsch
    • 1
  • Uwe Braun
    • 1
  • Josephine Haase
    • 2
    • 4
  • Oliver Purschke
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
    • 4
  • Helge Bruelheide
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Biology, Geobotany and Botanical GardenMartin Luther University Halle WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH ZurichEcosystem Management, Institute of Terrestrial EcosystemsZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of Biology, GeobotanyAlberts-Ludwigs University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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