, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 667-673
Date: 27 Nov 2010

Successional changes in ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with the polar willow Salix polaris in a deglaciated area in the High Arctic, Svalbard

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Abstract

Polar willow (Salix polaris Wahlenb.), a mycorrhizal dwarf shrub, colonizes recently deglaciated areas in the High Arctic, Svalbard. To clarify successional changes in ECM fungi associated with S. polaris after glacier retreat, we examined the diversity and density of ECM fungi in culture and field conditions. Plant and soil samples were collected from three sites of different successional stages in the deglaciated area of Austre Brøggerbreen, near Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. The successional stages were early stage with newly exposed bare ground (site I), transient stage with scattered colonization of Salix (sites IIa and IIb), and late stage with well-developed vegetation (site III). No ECM colonization on Salix was observed in soils collected from bare ground in early and transient stages (sites I and IIa). However, most Salix individuals showed ECM colonization in soils collected from sites close to Salix colonies in transient and late stages (sites IIb and III). Based on molecular analyses and operational taxonomic unit (OTU: >95% ITS sequence similarity) delimitations, we identified 15 OTUs/species in eight genera. The dominant OTU/species of ECM fungi identified in the transient and late stages was Geopora sp.1 and Cenococcum sp.1, respectively. In the culture experiment, ECM diversity was greater in late stage (eight OTUs/species) than in transient stage (three OTUs/species). This pattern was consistent with field observations, i.e., late-stage sites contained more OTUs/species of ECM fungi. These results indicate that species diversity of ECM fungi increases and the dominant species changes with the progress of succession after glacier retreat in the High Arctic.