RNA-based analyses reveal fungal communities structured by a senescence gradient in the moss Dicranum scoparium and the presence of putative multi-trophic fungi.
Diverse plant-associated fungi are thought to have symbiotrophic and saprotrophic states because they can be isolated from both dead and living plant tissues. However, such tissues often are separated in time and space, and fungal activity at various stages of plant senescence is rarely assessed directly in fungal community studies. We used fungal ribosomal RNA metatranscriptomics to detect active fungal communities across a natural senescence gradient within wild-collected gametophytes of Dicranum scoparium (Bryophyta) to understand the distribution of active fungal communities in adjacent living, senescing and dead tissues. Ascomycota were active in all tissues across the senescence gradient. By contrast, Basidiomycota were prevalent and active in senescing and dead tissues. Several fungi were detected as active in living and dead tissues, suggesting their capacity for multi-trophy. Differences in community assembly detected by metatranscriptomics were echoed by amplicon sequencing of cDNA and compared to culture-based inferences and observation of fungal fruit bodies in the field. The combination of amplicon sequencing of cDNA and metatranscriptomics is promising for studying symbiotic systems with complex microbial diversity, allowing for the simultaneous detection of their presence and activity.
Chen, K-H; Liao, H-L; Arnold, AE; Bonito, G; Lutzoni, F
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