Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE)

Sebacinales distribution patterns in plant communities


Sigisfredo Garnica, Kai Riess, Robert Bauer, Franz Oberwinkler


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)


2009 - now

In a nutshell

Although Sebacinales represent a widely distribuded fungal lineage with a unique strectrum of nutritional modes, the drivers shaping their distribution, composition and diversity are poorly understood.

Project description

Molecular, ecological and ultrastructural studies have revealed that the Sebacinales, a recently described basidiomycetous order, present a unique richness of interaction types: ectomycorrhizas, orchid, arbutoid, cavendishioid, ericoid and jungermannioid mycorrhizas, and endophytic interactions.

Our unpublished data show that associations of Sebacinales with plants are common and widely spread in the field, but also suggest that patterns of geographical distributions of this group are neither a result of co-evolutionary processes nor of host specificity. Therefore, in this project, using molecular markers and ultrastructural analysis, we aim to infer the phylogenetic relationships and to elucidate factors driving patterns of Sebacinales community diversity and composition. Furthermore, we want to study the cellular interactions of Sebacinales associated with herbaceous and co-occurring plants of montane, subalpine and alpine ecosystems. The main hypotheses to be tested are: (i) the diversity and composition of Sebacinales communities are determined by vegetation type, and (ii) the mode of cellular interaction between Sebacinales and their host plants is host-dependent.

This project will also provide insights into the origin and evolution of mycorrhizal structures of Sebacinales and, as a byproduct, will yield DNA barcodes of Sebacinales as a novel tool for identifying these morphologically inconspicuous fungi.