Endophyte Associates of Florida Ziziphus

As we use what we have learned about storing seeds, propagating species, improving habitat, and reintroducing new populations, it becomes increasingly important to understand how factors in the environment influence the long-term health of a species. This includes plant-microbe interactions. Plant-fungi interactions are thought to be as evolutionarily as old as higher plants themselves. Fungi can have a detrimental effect of plant weakening, retarding growth or reproduction, or plant death. However, most plant–fungal interactions have been found to benefit the plant through conferring light or stress tolerance, producing secondary metabolites that deter herbivores and pathogens, or promoting plant growth. A pilot study was initiated with Bok Tower Gardens and South Florida State College to identify the endophytes in the above-ground tissues of Florida Ziziphus, Ziziphus celata. The findings to date are presented here. This work may help us understand why some population may thrive over others and provide another tool to identify introduction sites.