Consistent patterns of fungal communities within ant-plants across a large geographic range strongly suggest a multipartite mutualism

Greenfield, Melinda J., Lach, Lori, Congdon, Brad C., Anslan, Sten, Tedersoo, Leho, Field, Matt, and Abell, Sandra E. (2021) Consistent patterns of fungal communities within ant-plants across a large geographic range strongly suggest a multipartite mutualism. Mycological Progress, 20. pp. 681-699.

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In recent decades, multipartite mutualisms involving microorganisms such as fungi have been discovered in associations traditionally thought of as bipartite. Ant-plant mutualisms were long thought to be bipartite despite fungi being noticed in an epiphytic ant-plant over 100 years ago. We sequenced fungal DNA from the three distinct domatium chambers of the epiphytic ant-plant Myrmecodia beccarii to establish if fungal communities differ by chamber type across five geographic locations spanning 675 km. The three chamber types serve different ant-associated functions including ‘waste’ chambers, where ant workers deposit waste; ‘nursery’ chambers, where the brood is kept; and ‘ventilation’ chambers, that allow air into the domatium. Overall, fungi from the order Chaetothyriales dominated the chambers in terms of the proportion of operational taxonomic units (OTUs; 13.4%) and sequence abundances of OTUs (28% of the total); however a large portion of OTUs (28%) were unidentified at the order level. Notably, the fungal community in the waste chambers differed consistently from the nursery and ventilation chambers across all five locations. We identified 13 fungal OTUs as 'common' in the waste chambers that were rare or in very low sequence abundance in the other two chambers. Fungal communities in the nursery and ventilation chambers overlapped more than either did with the waste chambers but were also distinct from each other. Differences in dominance of the common OTUs drove the observed patterns in the fungal communities for each of the chamber types. This suggests a multipartite mutualism involving fungi exists in this ant-plant and that the role of fungi differs among chamber types.

Item ID: 68027
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1617-416X
Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2021 06:13
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 0%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3102 Bioinformatics and computational biology > 310299 Bioinformatics and computational biology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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