Multipartite symbioses are complex symbiotic relationships involving multiple interacting partners. These types of partnerships provide excellent opportunities in which to apply a comparative approach to identify common historical patterns of population differentiation and species-specific life history traits. Using three symbiotic blue-stain fungal species (Ophiostomatacea) associated with outbreaking populations of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) in western Canada, we applied phylogenetic, population genetic and demographic approaches to clarify phylogeographic patterns among the three fungal species. Broadly, the three species showed significant population differentiation, forming northern and southern populations, despite dramatic differences in haplotype diversity. Finer structuring and population demographic patterns were less consistent, showing some interspecific incongruence. By contrasting these species simultaneously, we were able to identify differences in recombination rate and ecological traits that can explain the observed patterns of incongruence among the fungal species. By applying a comparative approach to partners of a multipartite symbiosis, we were able to distinguish congruent population structuring and species-specific differences that help us to understand the complexity and evolution of this symbiotic system.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.