Background. Recent climatic history has strongly impacted plant populations, but little is known about its effect on microbes. Alders, which host few and specific sym0bionts, have high genetic diversity in glacial refugia. Here, we tested the prediction that communities of root symbionts survived in refugia with their host populations. We expected to detect endemic symbionts and a higher species richness in refugia as compared to recolonized areas. Methods. We sampled ectomycorrhizal (EM) root tips and the nitrogen-fixing actinomycete Frankia communities in eight sites colonized by Alnus glutinosa subsp. barbata close to the Caucasus in Georgia. Three sites were located in the Colchis, one major Eurasian climatic refugia for Arcto-Tertiary flora and alders, and five sites were located in the recolonized zone. Endemic symbionts and plant ITS variants were detected by comparing sequences to published data from Europe and another Tertiary refugium, the Hyrcanian forest. Species richness and community structure were compared between sites from refugia and recolonized areas for each symbionts. Results. For both symbionts, most MOTUs present in Georgia had been found previously elsewhere in Europe. Three endemic Frankia strains were detected in the Colchis vs two in the recolonized zone, and the five endemic EM fungi were detected only in the recolonized zone. Frankia species richness was higher in the Colchis while the contrary was observed for EM fungi. Moreover, the genetic diversity of one alder specialist Alnicola xanthophylla was particularly high in the recolonized zone. The EM communities occurring in the Colchis and the Hyrcanian forests shared closely related endemic species. Discussion. The Colchis did not have the highest alpha diversity and more endemic species, suggesting that our hypothesis based on alder biogeography may not apply to alder's symbionts. Our study in the Caucasus brings new clues to understand symbioses biogeography and their survival in Tertiary and ice-age refugia, and reveals that isolated host populations could be of interest for symbiont diversity conservation.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Roy et al.
- Glacial refugia
- Tertiary refugia