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Fungal Endophyte Symbiosis and Plant Diversity in Successional Fields

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Science  10 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5434, pp. 1742-1744
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5434.1742

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Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests that microbial interactions are important determinants of plant biodiversity. The hypothesis that fungal endophyte symbiosis reduces diversity in successional fields was tested by manipulating infection of tall fescue, the most abundant perennial grass in the eastern United States. Over a 4-year period, species richness declined and tall fescue dominance increased in infected plots relative to uninfected plots without differences in total productivity. A host-specific endophyte, with negligible biomass, altered plant community structure in this long-term field experiment and may be reducing plant diversity throughout its expanding range.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail: clay{at}indiana.edu

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