The Influence of Cone Age and Urbanisation on the Diversity and Community Composition of Culturable Seed Fungal Endophytes within Native Australian Banksia ericifolia L.f. subsp. ericifolia

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Journal of Fungi


Seed fungal endophytes play a crucial role in assisting the overall health and success of their host plant; however, little is known about the factors that influence the diversity and composition of these endophytes, particularly with respect to how they change over time and within urban environments. Using culturing techniques, morphological analyses, and Sanger sequencing, we identified the culturable seed fungal endophytes of Banksia ericifolia at two urban and two natural sites in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. A total of 27 Operational Taxonomic Units were obtained from 1200 seeds. Older cones were found to contain, on average, more colonised endophytes than younger cones. Species richness was also significantly influenced by cone age, with older cones being more speciose. Between urban and natural sites, the overall community composition did not change, although species richness and diversity were greatest at urban sites. Understanding how these endophytes vary in time and space may help provide an insight into the transmission pathways used and the potential role they play within the development and survival of the seed. This knowledge may also be crucial for restoration purposes, especially regarding the need to consider endophyte viability in ex situ seed collection and storage in seed-banking practices.

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