We examine the evolution and ecology of host-specificity between pines or other conifer needles and fungal endophytes, especially Lophodermium.
Fungal endophyte species that are horizontally transmitted appear to lack strict host-specificity, unlike many vertically-transmitted symbionts. The communities are highly variable across environments, host species, and distances, but patterns for taxon-specific affinity can be observed depending on taxon level. We are exploring the host specificity of foliar fungal endophytes associated with the Pinus genus of North America. In particular, we are interested in how the evolutionary history of host species affects community similarity of the endophytes. We are focused on understanding coevolutionary mechanisms responsible for fungal endophyte diversity and using Lophodermium as a model system. Picture here is a potentially new species Rodolfo and Ryoko found in China.
We created a ShinyApp (v.0.0 Aug. 2022) https://lophodermium-endophyte.shinyapps.io/morph_id/ that allows users to search for Lophodermium species using multiple criteria.
This work is funded by NSF and supported by collaborations with JGI and EMSL with a FICUS grant.