JOURNAL ARTICLE

Sharing rotting wood in the shade: ectomycorrhizal communities of co-occurring birch and hemlock seedlings

Sarah K Poznanovic, Erik A Lilleskov, Christopher R Webster
Mycorrhiza 2015, 25 (2): 153-64
25091153
Coarse woody debris (CWD) is an important nursery environment for many tree species. Understanding the communities of ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECMF)and the effect of ECMF species on tree seedling condition in CWD will elucidate the potential for ECMF-mediated effects on seedling dynamics. In hemlock-dominated stands, we characterized ECMF communities associated with eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britt) seedling pairs growing on CWD. Seedling foliage and CWD were analyzed chemically, and seedling growth, canopy cover, and canopy species determined. Thirteen fungal taxa, 12 associated with birch, and 6 with hemlock, were identified based on morphology and ITS sequencing. Five species were shared by co-occurring birch and hemlock, representing 75% of ectomycorrhizal root tips. Rarified ECMF taxon richness per seedling was higher on birch than hemlock. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling revealed significant correlations between ordination axes, the mutually exclusive ECMF Tomentella and Lactarius spp., foliar N and K, CWD pH, and exchangeable Ca and Mg. Seedlings colonized by Lactarius and T. sublilacina differed significantly in foliar K and N, and CWD differed in exchangeable Ca and Mg. CWD pH and nutrient concentrations were low but foliar macro-nutrient concentrations were not. We hypothesize that the dominant ECMF are adapted to low root carbohydrate availability typical in shaded environments but differ in their relative supply of different nutrients.

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