Diverse bacteria inhabit living hyphae of phylogenetically diverse fungal endophytes

Michele T. Hoffman, A. Elizabeth Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Both the establishment and outcomes of plant-fungus symbioses can be influenced by abiotic factors, the interplay of fungal and plant genotypes, and additional microbes associated with fungal mycelia. Recently bacterial endosymbionts were documented in soilborne Glomeromycota and Mucoromycotina and in at least one species each of mycorrhizal Basidiomycota and Ascomycota. Here we show for the first time that phylogenetically diverse endohyphal bacteria occur in living hyphae of diverse foliar endophytes, including representatives of four classes of Ascomycota. We examined 414 isolates of endophytic fungi, isolated from photosynthetic tissues of six species of cupressaceous trees in five biogeographic provinces, for endohyphal bacteria using microscopy and molecular techniques. Viable bacteria were observed within living hyphae of endophytic Pezizomycetes, Dothideomycetes, Eurotiomycetes, and Sordariomycetes from all tree species and biotic regions surveyed. A focus on 29 fungus/bacterium associations revealed that bacterial and fungal phylogenies were incongruent with each other and with taxonomie relationships of host plants. Overall, eight families and 15 distinct genotypes of endohyphal bacteria were recovered; most were members of the Proteobacteria, but a small number of Bacillaceae also were found, including one that appears to occur as an endophyte of plants. Frequent loss of bacteria following subculturing suggests a facultative association. Our study recovered distinct lineages of endohyphal bacteria relative to previous studies, is the first to document their occurrence in foliar endophytes representing four of the most species-rich classes of fungi, and highlights for the first time their diversity and phylogenetic relationships with regard both to the endophytes they inhabit and the plants in which these endophyte-bacterium symbiota occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4063-4075
Number of pages13
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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