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Data from: Environmental filtering structures fungal endophyte communities in tree bark

Cite this dataset

Pellitier, Peter; Zak, Donald; Salley, Sydney (2019). Data from: Environmental filtering structures fungal endophyte communities in tree bark [Dataset]. Dryad.


The factors that control the assembly and composition of endophyte communities across plant hosts remains poorly understood. This is especially true for endophyte communities inhabiting inner tree bark, one of the least studied components of the plant microbiome. Here, we test the hypothesis that bark of different tree species acts as an environmental filter structuring endophyte communities, as well as the alternative hypothesis, that bark acts as a passive reservoir that accumulates a diverse assemblage of spores and latent fungal life stages. We develop a means of extracting high‐quality DNA from surface sterilized tree bark to compile the first culture‐independent study of inner bark fungal communities. We sampled a total of 120 trees, spanning five dominant overstorey species across multiple sites in a mixed temperate hardwood forest. We find that each of the five tree species harbour unique assemblages of inner bark fungi and that angiosperm and gymnosperm hosts harbour significantly different fungal communities. Chemical components of tree bark (pH, total phenolic content) structure some of the differences detected among fungal communities residing in particular tree species. Inner bark fungal communities were highly diverse (mean of 117–171 operational taxonomic units per tree) and dominated by a range of Ascomycete fungi living asymptomatically as putative endophytes. Together, our evidence supports the hypothesis that tree bark acts as an environmental filter structuring inner bark fungal communities. The role of these potentially ubiquitous and plant‐specific fungal communities remains uncertain and merits further study.

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United States