Mycorrhizal networks affect ectomycorrhizal fungal community similarity between conspecific trees and seedlings
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Ectomycorrhizal (EM) networks (MN) are thought to be an important mode of EM fungal colonization of coniferous seedlings. How MNs affect EM communities on seedlings, and how this varies with biotic and abiotic factors, is integral to understanding their importance in seedling establishment. We examined EM fungal community similarity between mature trees and conspecific interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) seedlings in two experiments where seed and nursery-grown seedlings originating from different locations were planted at various distances from trees along a climatic gradient. At harvest, trees shared 60% of their fungal taxa in common with outplanted seedlings and 77% with germinants, indicating potential for seedlings to join the network of residual trees. In both experiments, community similarity between trees and seedlings increased with drought. However, community similarity was lower among nursery seedlings growing at 2.5 m from trees when they were able to form an MN, suggesting MNs reduced seedling EM fungal richness. For field germinants, MNs resulted in lower community similarity in the driest climates. Distance from trees affected community similarity of nursery seedlings to trees, but there was no interaction of provenance with MNs in their effect on similarity in either nursery seedlings or field germinants as hypothesized. We conclude that MNs of trees influence EM colonization patterns of seedlings, and the strength of these effects increases with climatic drought.
KeywordsPseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca (interior Douglas-fir) Mycorrhizal network Climate change Provenance Plant community dynamics Ecophysiology
We thank Robert Guy, Melanie Jones, and Sally Aitken for invaluable help in the design and implementation of the field and laboratory methods. This research was funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant and a Forest Innovation Investment-Forest Science Program grant to S. Simard.
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