Do the costs and benefits of fungal endophyte symbiosis vary with light availability?
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2010
© The Authors (2010). Journal compilation © New Phytologist Trust (2010)
Volume 188, Issue 3, pages 824–834, November 2010
How to Cite
Davitt, A. J., Stansberry, M. and Rudgers, J. A. (2010), Do the costs and benefits of fungal endophyte symbiosis vary with light availability?. New Phytologist, 188: 824–834. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03428.x
- Issue published online: 19 OCT 2010
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2010
- Received: 2 June 2010Accepted: 26 June 2010
- context dependence;
- phylogenetically independent contrasts;
- tall fescue
- •Here, we examined whether fungal endophytes modulated host plant responses to light availability. First, we conducted a literature review to evaluate whether natural frequencies of endophyte symbiosis in grasses from shaded habitats were higher than frequencies in grasses occupying more diverse light environments. Then, in a glasshouse experiment, we assessed how four levels of light and the presence of endophyte symbioses affected the growth of six grass species.
- •In our literature survey, endophytes were more commonly present in grasses restricted to shaded habitats than in grasses from diverse light environments.
- •In the glasshouse, endophyte symbioses did not mediate plant growth in response to light availability. However, in the host grass, Agrostis perennans, symbiotic plants produced 53% more inflorescences than nonsymbiotic plants at the highest level of shade. In addition, under high shade, symbiotic Poa autumnalis invested more in specific leaf area than symbiont-free plants. Finally, shade increased the density of the endophyte in leaf tissues across all six grass species.
- •Our results highlight the potential for symbiosis to alter the plasticity of host physiological traits, demonstrate a novel benefit of endophyte symbiosis under shade stress for one host species, and show a positive association between shade-restricted grass species and fungal endophytes.