Original Article

Ecological Research

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 983-993

First online:

Monotropastrum humile var. humile is associated with diverse ectomycorrhizal Russulaceae fungi in Japanese forests

  • Akiyoshi YamadaAffiliated withFaculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University Email author 
  • , Daisei KitamuraAffiliated withFaculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University
  • , Masanobu SetoguchiAffiliated withFaculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University
  • , Yosuke MatsudaAffiliated withGraduate School of Bioresources, Mie University
  • , Yasushi HashimotoAffiliated withObihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
  • , Norihisa MatsushitaAffiliated withGraduate School of Agriculture and Life Science, University of Tokyo
  • , Masaki FukudaAffiliated withFaculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University

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Monotropastrum humile is nearly lacking in chlorophyll and obtains its nutrients, including carbon sources, from associated mycorrhizal fungi. We analyzed the mycorrhizal fungal affinity and species diversity of M. humile var. humile mycorrhizae to clarify how the plant population survives in Japanese forest ecosystems. We classified 78 samples of adult M. humile var. humile individuals from Hokkaido, Honshu, and Kyusyu Islands into 37 root mycorrhizal morphotypes. Of these, we identified 24 types as Russula or Lactarius fungal taxa in the Russulaceae, Basidiomycetes, but we could not identify the remaining 13 types as to their genus in the Basidiomycetes. The number of fungal species on M. humile var. humile was the highest in the plant subfamily. The diversity of fungal species revealed its increased trends in natural forests at the stand level, fagaceous vegetation, and cool-temperate climate. The most frequently observed fungus colonized mainly samples collected from sub-alpine forests; the second most frequently observed fungus colonized samples collected from sub-alpine to warm-temperate forests. These results suggest that Japanese M. humile populations are associated with specific but diverse fungi that are common ectomycorrhizal symbionts of various forest canopy trees, indicating a tripartite mycorrhizal relationship in the forest ecosystem.


Ectomycorrhizal symbiosis Fungal species diversity Myco-heterotrophy Non-photosynthetic plants Tripartite relationship