Saprobic characteristics of three fungal taxa from ericalean roots and their association with the roots of Rhododendron groenlandicum and Piceamariana in culture
Simultaneous associations among ectotrophic and ericoid mycorrhizal hosts and their mycorrhizal fungi are expected in boreal bogs where ericaceous shrubs and conifers coexist rooted in an organic matrix dominated by Sphagnum mosses. We were thus prompted to examine, in vitro, the abilities of three ericoid mycorrhizal fungi [Hymenoscyphus ericae, Oidiodendron maius, and Variable White Taxon (VWT)] to associate with Picea mariana (Pinaceae), with both P. mariana and Rhododendron groenlandicum (Ericaceae) simultaneously, and to decompose Sphagnum fuscum. Hymenoscyphus ericae and VWT developed an intracellular association with roots of P. mariana and with roots of R. groenlandicum. Two strains of O.maius did not form typical infection units in R. groenlandicum, nor did they colonize the root cells of P. mariana. Mass losses incurred by sterilized S.fuscum plants inoculated with these three taxa indicated that O. maius could be more efficient as a free-living saprophyte on this material than either H. ericae or VWT and may in part explain why atypical associations with the roots of ericaceous hosts were formed.
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