, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 331–339 | Cite as

Decomposition of organic matter by the ericoid mycorrhizal endophytes of Formosan rhododendron (Rhododendron formosanum Hemsl.)

  • Lei-Chen Lin
  • Ming-Jen LeeEmail author
  • Jin-Liang Chen
Original Paper


Ericoid mycorrhizas are associated with a number of host plants in the Ericaceae in high-elevation regions of Taiwan. The ability of these microorganisms to thrive in harsh environmental conditions in the regions implies their capability of decomposing plant organic matter (raw humus). The objective of this study was to investigate the decomposition characteristics of three ericoid mycorrhizal endophytes isolated from the roots of Formosan rhododendron (Rhododendron formosanum Hemsl.). Molecular analysis indicated that strains Rf9 and Rf32 belong to the genus Cryptosporiopsis while strain Rf28 is a member of the genus Phialocephala. Mycorrhizal synthesis experiment showed that the roots of synthesized seedlings produced hyphal coils, a characteristic of ericoid mycorrhiza. Decomposition ability analysis revealed that strains Rf28 and Rf32 had the highest rates of decomposition of organic matter (up to 10.4% after 70 days) while the value for strain Rf9 was about 6.8%. Consistently, these strains secreted extracellular oxidases when cultured on tannic acid medium. Enzyme assay revealed that strains Rf28 and Rf32 secreted peroxidase, laccase, tyrosinase, and cellulase, but strain Rf9 secreted mainly peroxidase and tyrosinase. Apparently, the differences in secreted hydrolytic enzymes among the three endophytes are related to their ability to decompose organic matter. In the mycorrhizal synthesis experiment, all inoculated seedlings survived in the organic matter substrate for 70 days and exhibited a stronger vigor than the control. This study demonstrated that these three isolated endophytes, Rf9, Rf28, and Rf32, are ericoid mycorrhizal fungi, capable of forming ericoid mycorrhiza with Formosan rhododendron. Meanwhile, all three endophytes can secrete hydrolytic enzymes to decompose organic matter for growth, presumably a prerequisite for the adaptation of Formosan rhododendron to the harsh environments of high elevation.


Rhododendron formosanum Cellulase Decomposition ability Ericoid mycorrhiza Laccase Organic matter Peroxidase Tyrosinase 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Chiayi University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of AgricultureNational Chiayi UniversityChiayiRepublic of China
  2. 2.Endemic Species Research InstituteNantouRepublic of China
  3. 3.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesNational Chiayi UniversityChiayiRepublic of China
  4. 4.Department of Hospital and Health Care AdministrationChia Nan University of Pharmacy and ScienceTainanRepublic of China

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