Journal Article

Screening for bacterial–fungal associations in a south-eastern US salt marsh using pre-established fungal monocultures

Justine I. Lyons, Steven Y. Newell, Ryan P. Brown and Mary Ann Moran

in FEMS Microbiology Ecology

Volume 54, issue 2, pages 179-187
Published in print October 2005 |
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1574-6941 | DOI:

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Both bacteria and fungi play critical roles in decomposition processes in many natural environments, yet only rarely have they been studied as an integrated community. We examined whether physical associations exist between individual bacterial and fungal species that co-occur on decaying smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, in a south-eastern US salt marsh. Fungal-pervaded decaying Spartina was used as “bait” for potential bacterial associates. The bundles (infiltrated with one of three dominant fungal members of the decomposer assemblage, or an autoclaved control) were placed in a salt marsh and collected biweekly for 6 weeks during the first experiment (late summer 2002), and weekly for 3 weeks during the second experiment (early summer 2003). Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of 16S rRNA genes was used to track colonization by bacterial taxa in association with the established fungal species. T-RFLP analysis of 18S-to-28S internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions was used to monitor changes in fungal communities once bundles had been placed in the field. Results from both years were nearly identical, and showed that invasion by fungi other than the bait species was slow, resulting in a virtual fungal monoculture for several weeks into the experiments. Surprisingly, bacterial communities were unaffected by the identity of the fungal bait. Regardless of the fungal species, and even in the absence of prior fungal colonization, bacterial 16S rRNA profiles were remarkably similar. These results suggest that few species-specific associations, either positive or negative, exist between bacterial and fungal members of the Spartina decomposer community during initial colonization.

Keywords: Fungi; Bacteria; Salt marsh; Microbial interactions; Spartina alterniflora

Journal Article.  4542 words.  Illustrated.

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