Mutualistic fungi are known to increase plant tolerance to abiotic and biotic stress. Therefore, it is expected that along aridity gradients the diversity and composition of symbiotic fungal community will be associated with climate. We examined the diversity of foliar endophytic fungi, inhabiting an annual grass, growing in three different climates (arid, Mediterranean, and wet Mediterranean) along the Israeli aridity gradient. Among the identified endophyte taxa, some were unique to each site, some were common to the two sites located in the extremes of the gradient, but none was common to all sites. Although most fungal endophyte taxa identified were not related to stress adaptation, we detected two that are considered to benefit plants by mitigating stress: Cladosporium and Trichoderma. Cladosporium is highly osmotolerant, frequently found in saline environments. Trichoderma is a biocontrol agent, frequently found in mesic environments. These findings support the hypothesis that species composition of foliar endophytic fungi is associated with stress adaptation of plants.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology