Revisiting the host effect on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities: implications from host-fungal associations in relict Pseudotsuga japonica forests

Masao Murata, Akihiko Kinoshita, Kazuhide Nara
Mycorrhiza 2013, 23 (8): 641-53
Host identity is among the most important factors in structuring ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal communities. Both host-fungal coevolution and host shifts can account for the observed host effect, but their relative significance in ECM fungal communities is not well understood. To investigate these two host-related mechanisms, we used relict forests of Pseudotsuga japonica, which is an endangered endemic species in Japan. As with other Asian Pseudotsuga species, P. japonica has been isolated from North American Pseudotsuga spp. since the Oligocene and has evolved independently as a warm-temperate species. We collected 100 soil samples from four major localities in which P. japonica was mixed with other conifers and broadleaf trees. ECM tips in the soil samples were subjected to molecular analyses to identify both ECM fungi and host species. While 136 ECM fungal species were identified in total, their communities were significantly different between host groups, confirming the existence of the host effect on ECM fungal communities. None of the 68 ECM fungal species found on P. japonica belonged to Pseudotsuga-specific lineages (e.g., Rhizopogon and Suillus subgroups) that are common in North America. Most of ECM fungi on P. japonica were shared with other host fungi or phylogenetically close to known ECM fungi on other hosts in Asia. These results suggest that after migrating, Pseudotsuga-specific fungal lineages may have become extinct in small isolated populations in Japan. Instead, most of the ECM fungal symbionts on P. japonica likely originated from host shifts in the region.

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