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Keywords:

  • coevolution;
  • local adaptation;
  • mutualism;
  • mycorrhizal fungi;
  • parasitism;
  • Pinus;
  • Rhizopogon

Abstract

Mutualistic interactions are likely to exhibit a strong geographic mosaic in their coevolutionary dynamics, but the structure of geographic variation in these interactions is much more poorly characterized than in host–parasite interactions. We used a cross-inoculation experiment to characterize the scales and patterns at which geographic structure has evolved in an interaction between three pine species and one ectomycorrhizal fungus species along the west coast of North America. We found substantial and contrasting patterns of geographic interaction structure for the plants and fungi. The fungi exhibited a clinal pattern of local adaptation to their host plants across the geographic range of three coastal pines. In contrast, plant growth parameters were unaffected by fungal variation, but varied among plant populations and species. Both plant and fungal performance measures varied strongly with latitude. This set of results indicates that in such widespread species interactions, interacting species may evolve asymmetrically in a geographic mosaic because of differing evolutionary responses to clinally varying biotic and abiotic factors.