Climate and seasonality drive the richness and composition of tropical fungal endophytes at a landscape scale

Shuzo Oita, Alicia Ibáñez, François Lutzoni, Jolanta Miadlikowska, József Geml, Louise A. Lewis, Erik F.Y. Hom, Ignazio Carbone, Jana M. U’Ren, A. Elizabeth Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Understanding how species-rich communities persist is a foundational question in ecology. In tropical forests, tree diversity is structured by edaphic factors, climate, and biotic interactions, with seasonality playing an essential role at landscape scales: wetter and less seasonal forests typically harbor higher tree diversity than more seasonal forests. We posited that the abiotic factors shaping tree diversity extend to hyperdiverse symbionts in leaves—fungal endophytes—that influence plant health, function, and resilience to stress. Through surveys in forests across Panama that considered climate, seasonality, and covarying biotic factors, we demonstrate that endophyte richness varies negatively with temperature seasonality. Endophyte community structure and taxonomic composition reflect both temperature seasonality and climate (mean annual temperature and precipitation). Overall our findings highlight the vital role of climate-related factors in shaping the hyperdiversity of these important and little-known symbionts of the trees that, in turn, form the foundations of tropical forest biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number313
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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