, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 217–222 | Cite as

Morphological and molecular evidence supporting an arbutoid mycorrhizal relationship in the Costa Ricanpáramo

  • Todd W. OsmundsonEmail author
  • Roy E. Halling
  • Henk C. den Bakker
Original Paper


This study examines evidence for a particular arbutoid mycorrhizal interaction in páramo, a high-altitude neotropical ecosystem important in hydrological regulation but poorly known in terms of its fungal communities. Comarostaphylis arbutoides Lindley (Ericaceae) often forms dense thickets in Central American páramo habitats. Based on phylogenetic classification, it has been suggested that C. arbutoides forms arbutoid mycorrhizae with diverse Basidiomycetes and Ascomycetes; however, this assumption has not previously been confirmed. Based on field data, we hypothesized an arbutoid mycorrhizal association between C. arbutoides and the recently described bolete Leccinum monticola Halling & G.M. Mueller; in this study, we applied a rigorous approach using anatomical and molecular data to examine evidence for such an association. We examined root samples collected beneath L. monticola basidiomes for mycorrhizal structures, and we also compared rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences between mycorrhizal root tips and leaf or basidiome material of the suspected symbionts. Root cross sections showed a thin hyphal sheath and intracellular hyphal coils typical of arbutoid mycorrhizae. DNA sequence comparisons confirmed the identity of C. arbutoides and L. monticola as the mycorrhizal symbionts. In addition, this paper provides additional evidence for the widespread presence of minisatellite-like inserts in the ITS1 spacer in Leccinum species (including a characterization of the insert in L. monticola) and reports the use of an angiosperm-specific ITS primer pair useful for amplifying plant DNA from mycorrhizal roots without co-amplifying fungal DNA.


Basidiomycota Boletaceae Ericaceae Arbutoid mycorrhizae Ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences 



We wish to thank Maria Alice Neves for field assistance, and Lisa Campbell, Susan Pell, and Lawrence Kelly for assistance with laboratory methods. Funding support was provided by the National Science Foundation (DEB-9972018 and DEB-9972027), National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, and the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics Studies (NYBG). Further information on macrofungi of the Costa Rican páramo is available from the Macrofungi of Costa Rica project web site ( Photographs of páramo habitat, C. arbutoides, and L. monticola are available on the project web site and in Halling and Mueller (2006).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd W. Osmundson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Roy E. Halling
    • 1
    • 3
  • Henk C. den Bakker
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Systematic BotanyThe New York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  2. 2.The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics StudiesThe New York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental BiologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant PathologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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