, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1327–1338 | Cite as

Individual tree genotypes do not explain ectomycorrhizal biodiversity in soil cores of a pure stand of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.)

  • Ben Bubner
  • Matthias Fladung
  • Peter Lentzsch
  • Babette Münzenberger
  • Reinhard F. Hüttl
Original Paper


Niche differentiation is a common explanation for high ectomycorrhizal diversity. In monocultures and on small spatial scales, the number of variable factors that may provide niches decreases. Still, even in the restricted volume of a soil core, typically more than one ectomycorrhizal species is found. We tested the hypothesis that roots of different individual beech genotypes provide niches on a small spatial scale in a pure beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) stand in the North-eastern Lowlands of Germany. Fourteen ectomycorrhizal species, as determined by ITS sequencing and phylograms were patchily distributed along an 81 m long transect with ten transect points. All root segments in the three species richest soil cores and the surrounding beeches were genotyped by microsatellite PCR. In each of the three soil cores, roots of two host genotypes were present that corresponded to the two closest mature trees. We found that the different root genotypes did not carry different sets of ectomycorrhizal species even at the high species resolution provided through our study. Therefore, the hypothesis of tree genotypes contributing to ectomycorrhizal biodiversity at the analyzed beech stand has to be rejected. Exploration types and stochastic processes are discussed as alternative explanations for the species richness and distributions in the analyzed soil cores. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report that links ectomycorrhizal biodiversity in a soil core to the individual genotype of an angiosperm host.


Ectomycorrhiza Exploration types Fagus sylvatica Microsatellite PCR Niches Ribosomal DNA Stochastic explanations Tree genotype 



We thank Katrin Groppe, Ilona Bartelt and Monika Roth for excellent technical assistance. We are grateful to Ingrid Kottke whose comments helped to improve an earlier version of the manuscript. Gabriele Franke and her team performed measurements of soil parameters. We are especially grateful to an anonymous reviewer, who pointed to the concept of exploration types as alternative explanation for high species diversity in a restricted soil volume. We thank M. T. Lavin-Zimmer for assisting with the English language.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1113 kb)
468_2013_881_MOESM2_ESM.doc (122 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 122 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Bubner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matthias Fladung
    • 3
  • Peter Lentzsch
    • 2
  • Babette Münzenberger
    • 2
  • Reinhard F. Hüttl
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Thünen Institute of Forest GeneticsWaldsieversdorfGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Landscape Biogeochemistry, Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)MünchebergGermany
  3. 3.Thünen Institute of Forest GeneticsGroßhansdorfGermany
  4. 4.Brandenburg University of Technology, Chair of Soil Protection and RecultivationCottbusGermany
  5. 5.GFZ German Research Centre of Geosciences PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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