Aside from finding a huge amount of fungal diversity, this study also found that environmental variables are a factor in determining the fungal endophyte community of the phyllosphere. The environmental variables that were looked at were rainfall, elevation, and the age of the lava that the site/tree was located on. The study found that fungal endophytic communities were more similar with similar amounts of rainfall and elevation; thus communities correlated with these environmental variables. This finding is important for a number of different applications, including carbon fixation, community ecology, and climate change. Finding out more about how differences in temperature and rainfall will change the phyllosphere and how it functions could help us predict and understand yet another possible effect of climate change. Additionally, looking at the roles of these many different species of fungi in the phyllosphere community could help us design more effective solar sequestration methods.
If I wasn’t already betrothed to a PhD project looking at barcoding of benthic macroinvertebrates and biomonitoring of aquatic ecosystems, I would definitely be interested in looking at the fungal endophytic communities within the phyllosphere!
NB Zimmerman and PM Vitousek (2012). Fungal endophyte communities reflect environmental structuring across a Hawaiian landscape