Comparative transcriptomics of fungal endophytes in co-culture with their moss host Dicranum scoparium reveals fungal trophic lability and moss unchanged to slightly increased growth rates

Ko Hsuan Chen, Hui Ling Liao, A. Elizabeth Arnold, Hailee B. Korotkin, Steven H. Wu, P. Brandon Matheny, François Lutzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mosses harbor fungi whose interactions within their hosts remain largely unexplored. Trophic ranges of fungal endophytes from the moss Dicranum scoparium were hypothesized to encompass saprotrophism. This moss is an ideal host to study fungal trophic lability because of its natural senescence gradient, and because it can be grown axenically. Dicranum scoparium was co-cultured with each of eight endophytic fungi isolated from naturally occurring D. scoparium. Moss growth rates, and gene expression levels (RNA sequencing) of fungi and D. scoparium, were compared between axenic and co-culture treatments. Functional lability of two fungal endophytes was tested by comparing their RNA expression levels when colonizing living vs dead gametophytes. Growth rates of D. scoparium were unchanged, or increased, when in co-culture. One fungal isolate (Hyaloscyphaceae sp.) that promoted moss growth was associated with differential expression of auxin-related genes. When grown with living vs dead gametophytes, Coniochaeta sp. switched from having upregulated carbohydrate transporter activity to upregulated oxidation-based degradation, suggesting an endophytism to saprotrophism transition. However, no such transition was detected for Hyaloscyphaceae sp. Individually, fungal endophytes did not negatively impact growth rates of D. scoparium. Our results support the long-standing hypothesis that some fungal endophytes can switch to saprotrophism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1832-1847
Number of pages16
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume234
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Dicranum scoparium
  • fungal endophytes
  • gene expression
  • moss
  • saprotroph
  • transcriptome
  • trophic mode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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