Funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to D.J.B. (grants IOS 1457369 and 1656057), Puget Sound Mycological Society to E.R.W., and the Northwest Ecological Research Institute (NERI) to E.R.W. is gratefully acknowledged.
Plant-microbe relationships, Microbial ecology, Endophytic fungi, Plant litter -- Biodegradation
Litter decomposition rates are affected by a variety of abiotic and biotic factors, including the presence of fungal endophytes in host plant tissues. This review broadly analyzes the findings of 67 studies on the roles of foliar endophytes in litter decomposition, and their effects on decomposition rates. From 29 studies and 1 review, we compiled a comprehensive table of 710 leaf-associated fungal taxa, including the type of tissue these taxa were associated with and isolated from, whether they were reported as endo- or epiphytic, and whether they had reported saprophytic abilities. Aquatic (i.e., in-stream) decomposition studies of endophyte-affected litter were significantly under-represented in the search results (p < 0.0001). Indicator species analyses revealed that different groups of fungal endophytes were significantly associated with cool or tropical climates, as well as specific plant host genera (p < 0.05). Finally, we argue that host plant and endophyte interactions can significantly influence litter decomposition rates and should be considered when interpreting results from both terrestrial and in-stream litter decomposition experiments.
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Wolfe, E. R., & Ballhorn, D. J. (2020). Do Foliar Endophytes Matter in Litter Decomposition?. Microorganisms, 8(3), 446.