Timothy J. Rogers, Christy Leppanen, Veronica Brown, James A. Fordyce, Anthony LeBrude, Thomas Ranney, Daniel Simberloff, Melissa A. Cregger
The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is an insect native to Asia and likely western North America. First reported in eastern North America in 1951, it has devastated eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) populations. Loss of hemlock will greatly affect the structure and function of eastern forests. Susceptibility to adelgid infestation varies within eastern hemlocks and across other hemlock species. Our study was conducted to determine whether eastern hemlocks share a similar stem (phyllosphere) microbial community with other co-occurring hemlocks and whether community-level shifts are associated within trees of the same species based on HWA infestation. Surprisingly, we found no difference in microbial community composition or diversity between trees of the same species based on the level of HWA infestation. However, microbial communities varied significantly across the four hemlock trees sampled, native T. canadensis and three non-natives: Tsuga chinensis, Tsuga dumosa, and Tsuga sieboldii. Within these tree hosts, microbial communities from T. dumosa and T. chinensis clustered together, and microbial communities from T. canadensis and T. sieboldii clustered separately from all other tree species. Additionally, specific indicator taxa were identified for all the tree species sampled. These results indicate that Asian hemlocks might not fill the same niche in eastern forests as the native eastern hemlock. Further work should be conducted to determine how differences in hemlock species and associated microbial communities might scale up to alter organismal interactions involving hemlocks.
Rogers TJ, Leppanen C, Brown VA, Fordyce JA, LeBude A, Ranney T, Simberloff D, Cregger MA. 2018. Exploring variation in phyllosphere microbial communities across four hemlock species. Ecosphere 9:e02524.