A phylogenetic evaluation of whether endophytes become saprotrophs at host senescence

Itthayakorn Promputtha, Saisamorn Lumyong, Vijaykrishna Dhanasekaran, Eric Huge Charles McKenzie, Kevin David Hyde, Rajesh Jeewon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

231 Citations (Scopus)


Fungal endophytes and saprotrophs generally play an important ecological role within plant tissues and dead plant material. Several reports based solely on morphological observations have postulated that there is an intimate link between endophytes and saprotrophs. This study aims to provide valuable insight as to whether some endophytic fungi manifest themselves as saprotrophs upon host decay. Ribosomal DNA-based sequence comparison and phylogenetic relationships from 99 fungal isolates (endophytes, mycelia sterilia, and saprotrophs) recovered from leaves and twigs of Magnolia liliifera were investigated in this study. Molecular data suggest there are fungal taxa that possibly exist as endophytes and saprotrophs. Isolates of Colletotrichum, Fusarium, Guignardia, and Phomopsis, which are common plant endophytes, have high sequence similarity and are phylogenetically related to their saprotrophic counterparts. This provides evidence to suggest that some endophytic species change their ecological strategies and adopt a saprotrophic lifestyle. The implication of these findings on fungal biodiversity and host specificity is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-590
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes

Cite this