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Microbial communities of bristlecone needles and resistance in white pine blister rust
Alyssa Albertson: Colorado State University; Zaid Abdo: Colorado State University; Anna Schoettle: USDA Forest Service; Jane Stewart: Colorado State University; Ken Kassenbrock: Colorado State University
<div><i>Cronartium ribicola</i>, the causal agent of white pine blister rust (WPBR), threatens susceptible North American pine species, including Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (<i>Pinus aristata</i>). Since fungal endophytes have been identified to alter a hosts’ response to pathogens this research examined the endophytic fungal communities of healthy Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine trees previously inferred to vary in susceptibility to WPBR (using artificial inoculation progeny testing). Three sites were visited in Colorado, where six trees were sampled at each site. Two techniques were used to assay the fungal endophyte community of each tree: culturing from surface-sterilized needles, and of PCR-amplified ITS1 fungal ribosomal gene. Culturing recovered 255 fungal isolates in 33 morphological groups. The Next Generation data yielded over 42,000 usable sequences that were clustered into 789 operational taxonomic units. There was good overlap between both methods; detecting small variations between the fungal communities of individual trees, resistant and susceptible trees, and sites.</div>

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