Competition and coexistence in a multi-partner mutualism: Interactions between two fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle in beetle-attacked trees

K. P. Bleiker, D. L. Six

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Despite overlap in niches, two fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), Grosmannia clavigera and Ophiostoma montium, appear to coexist with one another and their bark beetle host in the phloem of trees. We sampled the percent of phloem colonized by fungi four times over 1 year to investigate the nature of the interaction between these two fungi and to determine how changing conditions in the tree (e.g., moisture) affect the interaction. Both fungi colonized phloem at similar rates; however, G. clavigera colonized a disproportionately larger amount of phloem than O. montium considering their relative prevalence in the beetle population. High phloem moisture appeared to inhibit fungal growth shortly after beetle attack; however, by 1 year, low phloem moisture likely inhibited fungal growth and survival. There was no inverse relationship between the percent of phloem colonized by G. clavigera only and O. montium only, which would indicate competition between the species. However, the percent of phloem colonized by G. clavigera and O. montium together decreased after 1 year, while the percent of phloem from which no fungi were isolated increased. A reduction in living fungi in the phloem at this time may have significant impacts on both beetles and fungi. These results indicate that exploitation competition occurred after a year when the two fungi colonized the phloem together, but we found no evidence of strong interference competition. Each species also maintained an exclusive area, which may promote coexistence of species with similar resource use.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)191-202
    Number of pages12
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Volume57
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 2009

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