Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 457–466 | Cite as

Evidence for inhibition of a fungal biocontrol agent by a plant microbiome

  • Matteo GarbelottoEmail author
  • Natalie Lowell
  • Irene Y. Chen
  • Todd W. Osmundson
Original Article


Miconia calvescens is a highly invasive shrub in tropical oceanic island ecosystems and the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides f. sp. miconiae (Cgm) has been widely introduced as a biocontrol against it. On the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, Cgm exhibits differential success along an elevation gradient, with highest effectiveness in controlling M. calvescens at higher elevations. We examined the association between the fungal biome of M. calvescens and Cgm biocontrol success using field surveys, microbiome sequencing, and in vitro competition experiments. Our results demonstrate that: (1) quantifiable differences in foliar damage occur across the elevation gradient despite the presence of Cgm at all elevations; (2) these differences correlate to differences in community structure of leaf-associated fungi in spite of close proximity of surveyed sites; and (3) endophytic fungi isolated from plant tissues exhibit different levels of competitive ability against Cgm in vitro, with higher competitive ability displayed by fungi isolated from lower elevations. Together, these results suggest an important role of the leaf microbiome in determining the success of biocontrol efforts made against invasive plants.


Biocontrol fungi Colletotrichum gloeosporiodes f. sp. miconiae Fungal endophytes Moorea Biocode Project Plant invasion 



We wish to thank the following individuals for support in planning, execution and analysis of the field and laboratory inoculation studies: Stephanie Bush, Maya deVries, David Hembry, Pat Kirch, Jean-Yves Meyer, Brent Mishler, Vince Resh, George Roderick, and Ravahere Taputuarai. We wish to thank Lydia Smith for assistance with in vitro competition studies, and Sarah Bergemann for assistance with field sampling of leaf tissue for microbiome sequencing. We thank Mari Mari Kellum for allowing use of her property as a low-elevation study site. Leaf microbiome sampling was conducted as a component of the Moorea Biocode Project, supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. NL gratefully acknowledges support from the SPUR Program of the College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley.


This study was funded by the BIOCODE grant by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to Matteo Garbelotto.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Patologia Vegetale (S.I.Pa.V.) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy & ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of WisconsinLa CrosseUSA

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