University of Oulu

Koivusaari P, Tejesvi MV, Tolkkinen M, Markkola A, Mykrä H and Pirttilä AM (2019) Fungi Originating From Tree Leaves Contribute to Fungal Diversity of Litter in Streams. Front. Microbiol. 10:651. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00651

Fungi originating from tree leaves contribute to fungal diversity of litter in streams

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Author: Koivusaari, Pirjo1; Tejesvi, Mysore V.1,2; Tolkkinen, Mikko3;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Chain Antimicrobials Oy, Oulu, Finland
3Pöyry Finland Oy, Oulu, Finland
4Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-05-13


Biomass production and decomposition are key processes in ecology, where plants are primarily responsible for production and microbes act in decomposition. Trees harbor foliar microfungi living on and inside leaf tissues, epiphytes, and endophytes, respectively. Early researchers hypothesized that all fungal endophytes are parasites or latent saprophytes, which slowly colonize the leaf tissues for decomposition. While this has been proven for some strains in the terrestrial environment, it is not known whether foliar microfungi from terrestrial origin can survive or perform decomposition in the aquatic environment. On the other hand, aquatic hyphomycetes, fungi which decompose organic material in stream environments, have been suggested to have a plant-associated life phase. Our aim was to study how much the fungal communities of leaves and litter submerged in streams overlap. Ergosterol content on litter, which is an estimator of fungal biomass, was 5–14 times higher in submerged litter than in senescent leaves, indicating active fungal colonization. Leaves generally harbored a different microbiome prior to than after submergence in streams. The Chao1 richness was significantly higher (93.7 vs. 60.7, p = 0.004) and there were more observed operational taxonomic units (OTUs) (78.3 vs. 47.4, p = 0.004) in senescent leaves than in stream-immersed litter. There were more Leotiomycetes (9%, p = 0.014) in the litter. We identified a group of 35 fungi (65%) with both plant- and water-associated lifestyles. Of these, eight taxa had no previous references to water, such as lichenicolous fungi. Six OTUs were classified within Glomeromycota, known as obligate root symbionts with no previous records from leaves. Five members of Basidiomycota, which are rare in aquatic environments, were identified in the stream-immersed litter only. Overall, our study demonstrates that foliar microfungi contribute to fungal diversity in submerged litter.

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Series: Frontiers in microbiology
ISSN: 1664-302X
ISSN-E: 1664-302X
ISSN-L: 1664-302X
Volume: 10
Article number: 651
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00651
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Dataset Reference: Supplementary material:
Copyright information: Copyright © 2019 Koivusaari, Tejesvi, Tolkkinen, Markkola, Mykrä and Pirttilä. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.