• liverwort and moss;
  • fungal endophytes;
  • polar ecosystem;
  • extremophiles;
  • culture- dependent method


Endophytic fungi associated with three bryophyte species in the Fildes Region, King George Island, maritime Antarctica, that is, the liverwort Barbilophozia hatcheri, the mosses Chorisodontium aciphyllum and Sanionia uncinata, were studied by culture-dependent method. A total of 128 endophytic fungi were isolated from 1329 tissue segments of 14 samples. The colonization rate of endophytic fungi in three bryophytes species were 12.3%, 12.1%, and 8.7%, respectively. These isolates were identified to 21 taxa, with 15 Ascomycota, 5 Basidiomycota, and 1 unidentified fungus, based on morphological characteristics and sequence analyses of ITS region and D1/D2 domain. The dominant fungal endophyte was Hyaloscyphaceae sp. in B. hatcheri, Rhizoscyphus sp. in C. aciphyllum, and one unidentified fungus in S. uncinata; and their relative frequencies were 33.3%, 32.1%, and 80.0%, respectively. Furthermore, different Shannon–Weiner diversity indices (0.91–1.99) for endophytic fungi and low endophytic fungal composition similarities (0.19–0.40) were found in three bryophyte species. Growth temperature tests indicated that 21 taxa belong to psychrophiles (9), psychrotrophs (11), and mesophile (1). The results herein demonstrate that the Antarctic bryophytes are an interesting source of fungal endophytes and the endophytic fungal composition is different among the bryophyte species, and suggest that these fungal endophytes are adapted to cold stress in Antarctica.