Pyrola rotundifolia (Ericaceae, Pyroleae tribe) is an understorey subshrub that was recently demonstrated to receive considerable amount of carbon from its fungal mycorrhizal associates. So far, little is known of the identity of these fungi and the mycorrhizal anatomy in the Pyroleae. Using 140 mycorrhizal root fragments collected from two Estonian boreal forests already studied in the context of mixotrophic Ericaceae in sequence analysis of the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer region, we recovered 71 sequences that corresponded to 45 putative species in 19 fungal genera. The identified fungi were mainly ectomycorrhizal basidiomycetes, including Tomentella, Cortinarius, Russula, Hebeloma, as well as some ectomycorrhizal and/or endophytic ascomycetes. The P. rotundifolia fungal communities of the two forests did not differ significantly in terms of species richness, diversity and nutritional mode. The relatively high diversity retrieved suggests that P. rotundifolia does not have a strict preference for any fungal taxa. Anatomical analyses showed typical arbutoid mycorrhizae, with variable mantle structures, uniseriate Hartig nets and intracellular hyphal coils in the large epidermal cells. Whenever compared, fungal ultrastructure was congruent with the molecular identification. Similarly to other mixotrophic and autotrophic pyroloids in the same forests, P. rotundifolia shares its mycorrhizal fungal associates with surrounding trees that are likely a carbon source for pyroloids.
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We thank Marie-Pierre Dubois and Violette Frennehardt for technical help in molecular work. U. Kõljalg and L. Tedersoo are funded by the Estonian Science Foundation (grants no. 6606, 7434, Gdhlm0092j; Rloomtipp) and M.-A. Selosse by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the Société Française d’Orchidophilie. Molecular data used in this work were produced through molecular genetic analysis technical facilities of the IFR119 ‘Montpellier Environnement Biodiversité’.
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