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Three plant species, the leafy liverwort Cephaloziella varians and the angiosperms Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis, were sampled from 12 islands across a 1480 km latitudinal gradient from South Georgia through to Adelaide Island. Samples were collected to determine the abundance of dark septate fungi in Antarctic plant and soil communities and the effects of these organisms on plant growth. Where the target species were found in sufficient numbers to allow sampling, it proved possible to collect at least 10 samples of each species. At least 10 soil samples were collected from each site where Deschampsia was found. Plants, with intact roots and soil, were transported back to the UK using cool and frozen stowage. Additionally, intact live plants were transported to the UK in an illuminated cabinet. Seeds of the two key species (Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis) were also collected at Bird Island and South Georgia. As the exact months of the data collection were not provided, and the metadata standard requires a YYYY-MM-DD format, this dataset has been dated as 1st January for start date, and 31st December for stop date.
This study investigated the status of dark septate (DS) fungi in Antarctic plant and soil communities, with the aim of determining the abundance of DS fungi in plant roots and rhizoids, their taxonomic affinities and their symbiotic status. Abundances of fungal hyphae were recorded in roots and rhizoids, and fungi were isolated and identified. Sequencing of ITS (internal transcribed spacer) regions of rDNA indicated that some isolates share taxonomic affinities with fungi of known symbiotic status. Synthesis experiments assessed the effects of DS fungal isolates, including H. ericae, on the growth and nutrient balance of their host plants. Seeds of Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis were collected for use in ecophysiological experiments.