Microorganisms 10 (11) - [2022-11-10; online 2022-11-10]
The aim of this study was to investigate fungal communities associated with leaves and roots of healthy-looking and declining U. glabra trees. The study was expected to demonstrate whether and how the diversity and composition of fungal communities change in these functional tissues following the infection by Dutch elm disease-causing fungi. The study sites included six U. glabra sites in Lithuania, where leaves and roots were sampled. DNA was isolated from individual samples, amplified using ITS2 rRNA as a marker, and subjected to high-throughput sequencing. The sequence analysis showed the presence of 32,699 high-quality reads, which following clustering, were found to represent 520 non-singleton fungal taxa. In leaves, the fungal species richness was significantly higher in healthy-looking trees than in diseased ones (p < 0.05). In roots, a similar comparison showed that the difference was insignificant (p > 0.05). The most common fungi in all samples of roots were Trichocladium griseum (32.9%), Penicillium restrictum (21.2%), and Unidentified sp. 5238_7 (12.6%). The most common fungi in all samples of leaves were Trichomerium sp. 5238_8 (12.30%), Aureobasidium pullulans (12.03%), Cladosporium sp. 5238_5 (11.73%), and Vishniacozyma carnescens (9.86%). The results showed that the detected richness of fungal taxa was higher in samples collected from healthy-looking trees than from diseased ones, thereby highlighting the negative impact of the Dutch elm disease on the overall fungal diversity.