Season and tissue type affect fungal endophyte communities of the Indian medicinal plant Tinospora cordifolia more strongly than geographic location.
A total of 1,151 endophytic fungal isolates representing 29 taxa were isolated from symptom-less, surface-sterilized segments of stem, leaf, petiole, and root of Tinospora cordifolia which had been collected at three locations differing in air pollution in India (Ramnagar, Banaras Hindu University, Maruadih) during three seasons (summer, monsoon, winter). Endophytes were most abundant in leaf tissues (29.38% of all isolates), followed by stem (18.16%), petiole (10.11%), and root segments (6.27%). The frequency of colonization (CF) varied more strongly among tissue type and season than location. CF was maximal during monsoon followed by winter and minimal during summer. A species each of Guignardia and Acremonium could only be isolated from leaves, whereas all other species occurred in at least two tissue types. Penicillium spp. were dominant (12.62% of all isolates), followed by Colletotrichum spp. (11.8%), Cladosporium spp. (8.9%), Chaetomium globosum (8.1%), Curvularia spp. (7.6%), and Alternaria alternata (6.8%). Species richness, evenness, and the Shannon-Wiener diversity index followed the same pattern as the CF with the tissue type and the season having the greatest effect on these indices, suggesting that tissue type and season are more influential than geography. Dissimilarity of endophyte communities in regards to species composition was highest among seasons. Colletotrichum linicola occurred almost exclusively in winter, Fusarium oxysporum only in winter and summer but never during monsoon and Curvularia lunata only in winter and during monsoon but never in summer. Emissions of NO(2), SO(2), and suspended particulate matter were negatively correlated with the CF. Ozone did not have any effect. The frequency of most species declined with increasing pollution, but some showed an opposite trend (e.g., Aspergillus flavus). Five unnamed taxa (sterile mycelia) were identified as Aspergillus tubingensis, Colletotrichum crassipes, Botryosphaeria rhodina, Aspergillus sydowii, and Pseudofusicoccum violaceum, using molecular tools. Fifteen of the 29 endophyte taxa exhibited antibacterial activity. B. rhodina (JQ031157) and C. globosum showed activity against all bacterial human pathogens tested, with the former showing higher activity than the latter.