Protection offered by leaf fungal endophytes to an invasive species against native herbivores depends on soil nutrients
Cite this dataset
Graff, Pamela et al. (2020). Protection offered by leaf fungal endophytes to an invasive species against native herbivores depends on soil nutrients [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9w0vt4bbj
Experimental design and data collection
Three 50 x 25 m exclosures were established in the field site as part of a long-term experiment to study the effects of cattle exclusion on vegetation dynamics (Longo, Seidler, Garibaldi, Tognetti, & Chaneton, 2013). Despite the fact that the site was never sown with exotic species nor the soil fertilized, tall fescue and other exotics were present at low cover at the time the exclosures were established. From 2004 until now, tall fescue became dominant in the exclosures representing nearly 80% of the absolute cover. This site is part of the Nutrient Network Global Research (http://nutnet.org). In December 2012, we established a long-term experiment within three exclosures (blocks). In each block, four plots of 5 x 5 m were established and randomly assigned to control or fertilized treatments (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and both). The nutrients were applied in commercially available granules of urea (N) [(NH2)2CO] and triple superphosphate (P) [Ca(H2PO4)2] (Borer et al., 2014). Each nutrient was added 3 times per year since 2013 (early spring, early summer and early autumn) for a total of 10g m2 year1 to ensure a substantial increase in nutrient availability and removing potential limitations. At the third year of fertilizer addition, P+ and NP+ plots had three times more [P] in soil (31.6 and 27.3 ppm, respectively) than N+ and Control plots (12.3 and 13.66ppm, respectively) (p=0.032). Addition of urea by fertilization did not increase total soil [N] in treated plots (see Fig. S1 and analysis in Supporting Information).
a) Tall fescue leaf nutrient content: In October of the fourth year of the nutrient addition experiment, twenty fully expanded and healthy leaves were randomly selected and harvested per plot, and ground for routine chemical analysis. Leaf N was determined using the Kjeldahl digestion method. Total P was determined by digestion in a mixture of perchloric and nitric acid (Sommers and Nelson, 1972). Phosphorus concentration was determined by molybdenum blue phosphorus method (Murphy & Riley, 1962) in conjugation with UV-visible spectrophotometer (Spectronic 601).
b) Alkaloid content in tall fescue. At the same dates, five fully expanded and healthy leaves were randomly selected and harvested per plot. We made sure not to sample leaves from a same plant by separation each sample by at least 0.5 m one from each other. The plant samples for alkaloid concentration analysis were kept cold in the field and then lyophilized. The concentration of the ergot alkaloid, ergovaline, was evaluated by the following steps. A volume of 2mL of extraction solvent (methanol/water (70:30)) was added to 0.5 g of ground freeze-dried fescue. The samples were homogenized with Bio-Gen PRO200 for 3 min and sonicated for 60 min, then centrifuged for 5 min at 3000 rpm. A volume of 1.5 ml of extract were transferred into glass vials and evaporated dryness at 45 °C under a stream of N2. Samples were resuspended in 4 ml ammonium hydroxide solution (2 M pH 8.5) and extracted with liquid-liquid extraction, chloroform 3 x 3 ml. Then the organic phase were glass vials and evaporated dryness at 30 °C under a stream of N2. Samples were resuspended in methanol/water/ammonium hydroxide (90:9:1) and filtered through a 0.22-mm nylon filter before analysis.
The analyses were conducted in a Thermo scientific ™ system consisting of a degasser, quaternary pump, column oven and an LTQ XL™ ion trap mass spectrometer. Chromatographic separations were performed with a C18 100 2.1 mm Hypersil™ ODS (5μm particle size) column. A solution of ammonium formate (10 mM) and acetonitrile, at the following gradient; 0-2 min, (95:5)-(95:5); 2-5 min, (95:5)-(70:30); 5-7 min, (70:30)-(50:50); 7-10 min, (50:50)-(0:100); 10-12 min, (0:100)-( 0:100); 12-13 min, (0:100)-( 95:5); 20 min (Stop) as the mobile phase. Samples (10 uL) were analyzed at a flow rate of 0.2 mL/min at 45ºC. The selected ion monitoring mode was used in quantification analysis. The mass-spectrometer acquisition settings were: ESI positive, retention time and abundance of the confirmation ion (Ion C) relative to that of quantification ion (Ion Q) were used as identification criteria.
c) Endophyte infection: We collected mature seeds from 10 individual plants trying to cover the whole plot and avoiding sampling the same plant twice. We opted for checking the endophyte in seeds instead of vegetative plants, because the distribution of fungal mycelium in leaves is uneven (Christensen, Easton, Simpson, & Tapper, 1998) and it could increase the probability of having false negatives. Endophyte infection was evaluated through the ‘seed squash’ technique (Card, Rolston, Park, Cox, & Hume, 2011). Briefly, the seeds were incubated for at least 8 hours in NaOH (2.5%), then stained with Rose Bengal dye (0.5% in 95% ethanol) and finally, the fungal endophytic hyphae were searched for under a light microscope (Bacon, White, & White Jr., 1994). A previous survey in tall fescue populations that occur in different vegetation communities of the same area, indicated that 100% of established plant were endophyte-infected (Gundel et al., 2009). Here, we started by inspecting five seeds per panicle (i.e. an individual plant). If any of the five seeds were negative or yielded not reliable result, we followed until ten.
d) Herbivore field density and performance. Caterpillar individuals from the native species Paracles vulpina were counted in three 1 x 1m2 quadrat within each plot in two consecutive years during October (the moment of peak abundance in the field). In the second year, all the caterpillars within a 1m2 per plot were collected and brought to the laboratory where they were immediately weighted. After that, 5 larval individuals of the final instar before pupation, of similar weight and length per plot were selected and placed individually in transparent plastic containers closed with a lid. They were placed in a growth chamber with constant temperature (23°C [±1], photoperiod L16:D8 h) and the caterpillar were fed with fresh leaves of Bromus catharticus, a palatable common native grass. These containers were daily visited to record the number of days from pupation to moth emergence, then, we estimated the pupal developmental rate as days-1.
e) Tall fescue leaf damage: Measurements were conducted one to two months after caterpillar peak abundance (November-December) in the same two consecutive years. In each plot, 10 well-spaced individual plants of tall fescue were evaluated for damage. The second newest fully expanded leaf of a randomly selected tiller per plant was removed and brought to lab for easier inspection. We differentiated between the different damage types (chewing, mining, vertebrate, etc.) and categorized the level of chewing damage using 5 categories (0%, 1-5%, 6-25%, 26-50%, greater than 50%).
f) Tall fescue cover: In each plot, one 1 x 1 m2 quadrat was settled permanently from the beginning of the experiment to estimate aerial cover of tall fescue and other species. Aerial cover was visually estimated to the nearest 5% using a modified Daubenmire method (Tognetti et al. 2010, Borer et al. 2014).
g) Final biomass: In permanently designated subplots within each plot, final biomass was estimated by clipping of all plants and litter rooted within two 0.1-m2 strips (10 cm x 100 cm) for a total of 0.2 m2. These samples were sorted by functional group (forb, grass, legumes, standing dead biomass) and within grasses, were separated in tall fescue and other grasses. Samples were dried at 60°C to constant mass and weighed to the nearest 0.01 g.
This data package includes the files needed to reproduce the analyses of the following paper: Graff et al. 2020. Protection offered by leaf fungal endophytes to an invasive species against native herbivores depends on soil nutrients. Journal of Ecology
University of Buenos Aires, Award: UBACYT 20020130100423BA