Kyle Grant

Concordia University
The Annual Establishment and Succession of Endophyte Communities: Systemic Growth or Environmental Inoculation?

Fungal endophytes asymptomatically infect the tissues of virtually all known terrestrial plant species, altering the physiology and fitness of their hosts. Despite the potential importance of fungal endophytes in the maintenance of healthy plant communities, little is known about the dynamics of fungal endophyte community succession. This is especially true in northern deciduous tree species that are subjected to periodic annual cycles of foliar loss and reestablishment. In this study, we aim to characterise the endophytic fungal diversity and seasonal fungal endophyte isolation frequencies of the Populus x jackii (Balm-of-Gilead) complex. Additionally, we will investigate how endophytic patterns of environmental inoculation and systemic growth contribute to the seasonal establishment of foliar fungal communities. Isolation will take place in two month intervals beginning in early spring upon the emergence of new leaves, and finish in late fall following the initiation of foliar senescence. To analyse the systemic growth of fungal endophytes, live branches will be removed from trees mid-winter and rooted under aseptic conditions in the laboratory. Sprouting leaves will be selected from branches for fungal isolation and comparison to fungal isolates from tissues exposed to environmental inoculation. Understanding the seasonal dynamics of fungal endophyte succession may offer insight into the representativeness of current endophyte sampling protocols, and how foliar fungal endophyte community structures may respond to future climatic variation.