Ectomycorrhizal Diversity in Beech Dominated Stands in Central Europe

  • Christoph RosingerEmail author
  • Hans Sandén
  • Douglas L. Godbold
Conference paper
Part of the Sustainability in Plant and Crop Protection book series (SUPP)


Mycorrhizal fungi are essential for ecosystem functioning. They are the most important pathway of plant-derived C into the soil and facilitate most of the N and P uptake. In boreal and temperate forest ecosystems, the subgroup of ectomycorrhizas is of special significance, and ectomycorrhizal symbiosis is obligatory for a number of tree species. These fungal assemblages can be highly diverse, which is often contrasting with the relatively low number of tree species. This is also true for small monoculture stands, where several studies showed dozens of different ectomycorrhizal species. The elemental mechanisms that drive ectomycorrhizal community composition and structure, especially on larger scales, are still subject of debate. In particular, the role and function of most of the rare species remain largely unknown. In this chapter, we investigate the structural traits of ectomycorrhizal communities of European beech (Fagus sylvatica), one of the most important tree species in temperate deciduous forest ecosystems. We therefore compiled data from ten different beech dominated sites across a European gradient to seek for ubiquitously valid statements regarding the species composition and community structure of ectomycorrhizae. A total of 205 ectomycorrhizal species were detected, of which 45% and 35% could be identified to the species and genus level, respectively. The majority of them are site-specific and found in very low abundances. A few species with narrow host range such as Lactarius subdulcis, Laccaria amethystina or Lactarius pallidus show low abundances on many sites. Three species, namely Hebeloma sinapizans, Lactarius salmonicolor and Elaphomyces aculeatus, appeared to be very dominant on one respective site. Cenococcum geophilum and Russula ochroleuca, both considered multi-host species, occur at all or rather several sites with relatively high abundances. Species ranking-abundance curves revealed a universal distribution pattern, with few dominant ectomycorrhizal species and a long tail of rare species. This shape is regardless of stand age and management practice, though no statistically significant correlations with species richness and the latter mentioned parameters could be found. By looking at several community structures, we were able to add another dimension of rarity and found most of the species not only being rare at a particular site, but also rare in terms of single appearance across several analysed stands. However, a vast part of ectomycorrhizal fungal species still remains unidentified. This circumstance further impedes our understanding concerning the occurrence of rare species. Yet, understanding their functional behaviour is of particular significance, as they could pose a key factor in ecosystem functioning, especially under changing climatic conditions.


Community structure Diversity Ectomycorrhiza European beech Fagus sylvatica 



This work was supported by a Marie Curie grant GPF333996 LINKTOFUN to DG, and by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of CR within the National Sustainability Program NPU I, grant No. LO1415.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Rosinger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hans Sandén
    • 1
  • Douglas L. Godbold
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Forest Ecology, Department of Forest- and Soil SciencesUniversity of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria

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