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Abstract Detail



Molecular Ecology and Evolution

O'Connell, Kristen Anna [1], Hutchinson, Miriam [1], Natvig, Donald O. [1].

Coprophilous fungi and their associations with animals and plants across diverse ecosystems in New Mexico.

Fungi form diverse associations with plants, both living plant tissues and decomposing plant materials, including herbivore droppings. The relationship between fungi and herbivore droppings provides an opportunity to study fungal communities in microenvironments that are transient, limited in physical composition, and of small spatial scale. Herbivore dung has long been utilized as a model for studying the succession of saprotrophic fungi during decomposition. Additionally, not only do coprophilic fungi serve to recycle carbon and nutrients within dung they potentially have a role in plant community dynamics. Notably, recent endophyte surveys have revealed that many fungi once thought of as exclusively coprophilous have a secondary role as endophytes of various plant species. The fungal community associated with herbivore droppings is determined by location, seasonal conditions (especially temperature and precipitation), succession, animal species, and plant species in the herbivore diet. To identify the factors most important for structuring these fungal communities, we have employed next-generation sequencing and culture-based methods to assess fungi associated with plants (primarily grasses) and herbivore droppings in New Mexico. Most samples were collected from sites in the Valles Caldera National Preserve or the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. These ecosystems range from desert shrubland to subalpine forest and span elevations from 1500 to 3000 meters. The herbivore droppings examined include those of three endemic herbivore species (Gunnison’s prairie dog, elk, and rabbit) and one non-native herbivore (oryx). Plants surveyed include blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis), several fescue grasses, and creosote shrub (Larrea tridentata). Our results include the following observations: 1) Closely-related species of fungi often occur in droppings from different mammal species as well as from very different ecosystems. 2) In contrast, certain fungal species appear to be associated preferentially with droppings from a particular animal species, independent of location. 3) There is substantial overlap between fungi associated with droppings and endophytic fungi. 4) Thermophilic fungi can often be cultured from collections of herbivore droppings, although sequences from these fungi are rare in next-generation sequencing efforts targeting rRNA ITS regions. 5) Many of the fungi identified in culture and metagenomic studies are well-known to occur on dung, including species of Chaetomium, Preussia, Coprinellus, and Pilobolus.


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1 - University of New Mexico, Biology, Castetter Hall, Albuquerque, NM, 87131, USA

Keywords:
coprophilous
Fungi
Endophytes
Bouteloua gracilis.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Topics
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PME005
Abstract ID:1168
Candidate for Awards:Genetics Section Poster Award


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