, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 123–132

Seasonal dynamics of ectomycorrhizal fungus assemblages on oak seedlings in the southeastern Appalachian Mountains


    • Department of BiologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    • Department of BiologyAppalachian State University
  • Orson K. Miller Jr.
    • Department of BiologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Jonathan L. Horton
    • Department of BiologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    • Department of BiologyOne University Heights
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00572-008-0163-8

Cite this article as:
Walker, J.F., Miller Jr., O.K. & Horton, J.L. Mycorrhiza (2008) 18: 123. doi:10.1007/s00572-008-0163-8


The potential for seasonal dynamics in ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal assemblages has important implications for the ecology of both the host trees and the fungal associates. We compared EM fungus distributions on root systems of out-planted oak seedlings at two sites in mixed southeastern Appalachian Mountain forests at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in North Carolina, from samples taken in mid-July and early September. Species level EM fungus type specificity, and identification in some cases, was enabled by direct sequencing of the mycobionts from the seedling roots. Seventy-four EM fungal ITS types were documented, most of which occurred only in the midsummer or early-fall samples, respectively. Cenococcum geophilum (morphotyped) was ubiquitously present and accounted for the majority of root tips sampled. Abundance and relative frequency of types other than C. geophilum were significantly higher in the July samples, while C. geophilum was significantly more frequent and abundant in September. Several generalistic dominants were found fairly equally at both sites and on both sample dates. Other taxa with relatively high frequency were recovered from both sites and tree seedling species, but were reliable indicators occurring primarily in the July sample (e.g., Laccaria cf laccata). Notable shifts in mycobiont dominance were apparent in relation to sample date, including increases in Cortinarius spp. richness, decreases in Thelephoraceae richness, and the disappearance of Amanita spp. types in the early fall compared to midsummer samples. However, diversity and rarity were high and differences in overall community composition (other than C. geophilum) by season were not significant based on multi-response permutation procedures. Although these results based on a single growing season are preliminary, changes in abundance and frequency, detection of significant indicator species, and the apparent systematic affinities of shifting EM types support the potential for seasonal variability in EM associations in this system.


Ectomycorrhizal communityFungal diversityMolecular ITS typingQuercus rubraQuercus prinusTemporal dynamics

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008