, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 67-107
Date: 01 Jun 2006

Fungal relationships and structural identity of their ectomycorrhizae

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Abstract

Aproximately 5,000–6,000 fungal species form ectomyorrhizae (ECM), the symbiotic organs with roots of predominantly trees. The contributing fungi are not evenly distributed over the system of fungi. Within Basidiomycota exclusively Hymenomycetes and within Ascomycota exclusively Ascomycetes contribute to the symbiosis. Hymenomycetes play a big part, Ascomycetes a minor role; Zygomycetes only form exceptionally ECM. Responsible for ascomycetous ECM are mostly Pezizales with their hypogeous derivatives, whereas Boletales, Gomphales, Thelephorales, Amanitaceae, Cantharellaceae, Cortinariaceae, Russulaceae, and Tricholomataceae are the most important ectomycorrhizal relationships within Hymenomycetes. ECM, as transmitting organs between soil and roots, are transporting carbohydrates for growth of mycelium and fruitbodies from roots and have to satisfy the tree’s demand for water and nutrients. The latter task particularly influences the structure of ECM as nutrients are patchily distributed in the soil and saprotrophic as well as ectomycorrhizal fungi can act as strong competitors for nutrients. In focusing these requirements, ECM developed variously structured hyphal sheaths around the roots, the so-called mantles, and differently organized mycelium that emanates from the mantle, the so-called extramatrical mycelium. The mantles can be plectenchymatous consisting of loosely woven, differently arranged hyphae or they are densely packed, forming a pseudoparenchyma similar to the epidermis of leaves. The extramatrical mycelium grows either as simple scattered hyphae from the mantle into the soil or it can be united to undifferentiated rhizomorphs with a small reach or to highly organized root-like organs with vessel-like hyphae for efficient water and nutrient transport from distances of decimeters. Cystidia, sterile and variously shaped hyphal ends, possibly appropriate for preventing animal attack, in addition, can cover mantles and rhizomorphs. Although only a limited number of species could be considered, some general conclusions are possible.

The genus Tuber forms needle-shaped cystidia and lacks rhizomorphs and clamps. Gomphales ECM are identified by rhizomorphs with ampullate inflations at septa of some hyphae and by oleoacanthocystidia or/and oleoacanthohyphae. Thelephoraceae reveal a great diversity of mantle structures and of extramatrical mycelium, with some additional optional characters, i.e., dark brown color, cystidia, blue granules, amyloid hyphae, or amyloid septa. Bankeraceae are mostly characterized by plectenchymatous mantles with star-like pattern and chlamydospores. Russulaceae possess smooth and hydrophilic ECM. Russula forms plectenchymatous mantles with knob-bearing cystidia, so-called russuloid cystidia, or pseudoparenchymatous mantles without cystidia. Lactarius lacks cystidia and shows laticifers within plectenchymatous or within pseudoparenchymatous mantles. The Boletales families Boletaceae, Gyroporaceae, Melanogastraceae, Paxillaceae, Rhizopogonaceae, Sclerodermataceae, and Suillaceae have the most advanced rhizomorph type, the so-called boletoid rhizomorphs, and reveal generally plectenchymatous mantles, frequently with ring-like patterns. Gomphidiaceae and Albatrellaceae provide cystidia, plectenchymatous mantles, and amyloidy; Gomphidiaceae are generally growing in ECM of Suillaceae and Rhizopogonaceae. Cortinariaceae reveal plectenchymatous mantles and undifferentiated or differentiated rhizomorphs or lack rhizomorphs at all. Cortinarius and Dermocybe are distinct by irregularly shaped, bent to tortuous ECM with many rhizomorphs, some growing over the mycorrhizal tip into the soil. Inocybe lacks rhizomorphs and its emanating hyphae are furnished by many secondary septa and prominent clamps with a hole. Rozites lacks rhizomorphs, too, and reveals a distinctly amyloid gelatinous mantle matrix. Descolea and Descomyces are covered by bolbitioid cystidia. Lastly, the genus Tricholoma forms plectenchymatous mantles and a high diversity of rhizomorphs.

Some of the ectomycorrhizal features are used to hypothesize relationships at different taxonomic levels. These conclusions are compared with recently developed molecular hypotheses. Correspondence between the two types of hypotheses are evident, while some conflicts wait for a settlement.