A growing interest in fungi that occur within symptom-less plants and lichens (endophytes) has uncovered previously uncharacterized species in diverse biomes worldwide. In many temperate and boreal forests, endophytic Coniochaeta (Sacc.) Cooke (Coniochaetaceae, Coniochaetales, Sordariomycetes, Ascomycota) are commonly isolated on standard media, but rarely are characterized. We examined 26 isolates of Coniochaeta housed at the Gilbertson Mycological Herbarium. The isolates were collected from healthy photosynthetic tissues of conifers, angiosperms, mosses and lichens in Canada, Sweden and the United States. Their barcode sequences (nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer and 5.8S; ITS rDNA) were ≤97% similar to any documented species available through GenBank. Phylogenetic analyses based on two loci (ITS rDNA and translation elongation factor 1-alpha) indicated that two isolates represented Coniochaeta cymbiformispora, broadening the ecological niche and geographic range of a species known previously from burned soil in Japan. The remaining 24 endophytes represented three previously undescribed species that we characterize here: Coniochaeta elegans sp. nov., Coniochaeta montana sp. nov. and Coniochaeta nivea sp. nov. Each has a wide host range, including lichens, bryophytes and vascular plants. C. elegans sp. nov. and C. nivea sp. nov. have wide geographic ranges. C. montana sp. nov. occurs in the Madrean biome of Arizona (USA), where it is sympatric with the other species described here. All three species display protease, chitinase and cellulase activity in vitro. Overall, this study provides insight into the ecological and evolutionary diversity of Coniochaeta and suggests that these strains may be amenable for studies of traits relevant to a horizontally transmitted, symbiotic lifestyle.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology|
|State||Published - 2021|
- Madrean biome
- Novel species
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics