Context-dependent and variable effects of endohyphal bacteria on interactions between fungi and seeds

Justin P. Shaffer, Paul Camilo Zalamea, Carolina Sarmiento, Rachel E. Gallery, James W. Dalling, Adam S. Davis, David A. Baltrus, A. Elizabeth Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plant-associated fungi often harbor endohyphal bacteria (EHB) that modulate fungal phenotypes. We quantified the effects of EHB on interactions between fungi and seeds of neotropical pioneer trees, which fungi colonize naturally in forest soil. Seeds were exposed to six fungal isolates that harbored EHB, and to clones of those fungi from which EHB were removed by antibiotic treatment. Seed colonization by fungi was evaluated for five tree species, and germination and viability were evaluated for three tree species. EHB influenced seed colonization by fungi in 5 of 30 fungus-tree species combinations, but the magnitude of their effects was small and the direction of effects depended upon fungal isolate-tree species pairs. EHB had rare and context-dependent effects on seed germination and viability, but their effects were strong when observed. Rare but powerful effects of EHB on fungal interactions with seeds highlight important and context-dependent aspects of plant and fungal ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalFungal Ecology
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Ascomycota
  • Barro Colorado Island
  • Endobacteria
  • Microbial ecology
  • Pioneer plants
  • Seed defense
  • Symbiosis
  • Tripartite
  • Tropical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Plant Science


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