Is the root-colonizing endophyte Acremonium strictum an ericoid mycorrhizal fungus?
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In previous investigations, we found that Acremonium strictum (strain DSM 100709) developed intracellular structures with similarity to mycelia of ericoid mycorrhizal fungi in the rhizodermal cells of flax plants and in hair roots of Rhododendron plantlets. A. strictum had also been isolated from roots of ericaceous salal plants and was described as an unusual ericoid mycorrhizal fungus (ERMF). As its mycorrhizal traits were doubted, we revised the hypothesis of a mycorrhizal nature of A. strictum. A successful synthesis of mycorrhiza in hair roots of inoculated ericaceous plants was a first step of evidence, followed by fluorescence microscopy with FUN®1 cell stain to observe the vitality of the host cells at the early infection stage. In inoculation trials with in vitro-raised mycorrhiza-free Rhododendron plants in axenic liquid culture and in greenhouse substrate culture, A. strictum was never observed in living hair root cells. As compared to the ERMF Oidiodendron maius and Rhizoscyphus ericae that invaded metabolically active host cells and established a symbiotic unit, A. strictum was only found in cells that were dead or in the process of dying and in the apoplast. In conclusion, A. strictum does not behave like a common ERMF—if it is one at all. A comparison of A. strictum isolates from ericaceous and non-ericaceous hosts could reveal further identity details to generalize or specify our findings on the symbiotic nature of A. strictum. At least, the staining method enables to discern between true mycorrhizal and other root endophytes—a tool for further studies.
KeywordsEricoid mycorrhiza Root endophyte Cell vitality Microscopy Fluorescence test FUN®1 cell stain
We thank Mrs. Natalie Roeder for competent technical assistance in preparing the experiments, and we gratefully appreciate the support by Mrs. Pamella Ogada to improve the English language of the manuscript.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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