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Molecular diversity within and between ericoid endophytes from the Ericaceae and Epacridaceae

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Abstract

This study investigated the relationships between ericoid mycorrhizal endophytes of the Ericaceae (Northern Hemisphere) and the Epacridaceae (Australia). Over 200 fungi were isolated from the roots of two species of Epacridaceae from Victoria, Australia. The isolates were divided into 12 groups by morphology on quarter-strength potato dextrose agar. All were slow-growing and most were dematiaceous, but groups varied from white through pink to dark olive. The ITS1–5.8S–ITS2 ribosomal DNA was amplified and sequenced from eight isolates, forming typical ericoid mycorrhizal morphology in Epacris impressa and one nonmycorrhizal isolate. Sequences were compared, by using similarities and maximum-parsimony analysis, with those of Hymenoscyphus ericae (Leotiales) and Oidiodendron species (Hyphomycetes), the most common endophytes of the Ericaceae. Maximum-parsimony analysis produced four clusters: (1) all Oidiodendron species (at least 90% similarity); (2) all five Victorian dark grey-olive isolates (at least 96% similarity); (3) one Victorian isolate and Cistella grevillei (88% similarity); (4) two light-coloured Victorian isolates and H. ericae (81% similarity). This suggests that these isolates from the Epacridaceae do not belong to the same species as those forming ericoid mycorrhiza in the Ericaceae.

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