Diversity and structure of ectomycorrhizal and co-associated fungal communities in a serpentine soil
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The community of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) and co-associated fungi from a serpentine site forested with Pinus sylvestris and Quercus petraea was explored, to improve the understanding of ECM diversity in naturally metalliferous soils. ECM fungi were identified by a combination of morphotyping and direct sequencing of the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region 2 and of a part of the large-subunit region. Co-associated fungi from selected ECM were identified by restriction fragment length polymorphism and sequencing of representative clones from libraries. Polymerase chain reaction with species-specific primers was applied to assess patterns of association of ECM and co-associated fungi. Twenty ECM species were differentiated. Aphyllophoralean fungi representing several basidiomycete orders and Russulaceae were dominant. Phialocephala fortinii was the most frequently encountered taxon from the diverse assemblage of ECM co-associated fungi. A ribotype representing a deeply branching ascomycete lineage known from ribosomal deoxyribonucleic acid sequences only was detected in some ECM samples. A broad taxonomic range of fungi have the potential to successfully colonise tree roots under the extreme edaphic conditions of serpentine soils. Distribution patterns of ECM-co-associated fungi hint at the importance of specific inter-fungal interactions, which are hypothesised to be a relevant factor for the maintenance of ECM diversity.
KeywordsPinus sylvestris Quercus petraea Ectomycorrhiza ECM-co-associated fungi Phialocephala fortinii Serpentine Rhizosphere Diversity Heavy metal toxicity
This work was supported by grant P15357 from the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) and grant LS149 from the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF) to JS. The authors thank Anton Russell and two anonymous reviewers for critical reading of the manuscript and helpful suggestions.
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