While the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is known to be widespread in terrestrial ecosystems, there is growing evidence that aquatic plants also form the symbiosis. It has been suggested that symbiosis with AM fungi may represent an important adaptation for isoëtid plants growing on nutrient-poor sediments in oligotrophic lakes. In this study, we address AM fungal root colonization intensity, richness and community composition (based on small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequencing) in five populations of the isoëtid plant species Lobelia dortmanna inhabiting oligotrophic lakes in Southern Sweden. We found that the roots of L. dortmanna hosted rich AM fungal communities and about 15 % of the detected molecular taxa were previously unrecorded. AM fungal root colonization intensity and taxon richness varied along an environmental gradient, being higher in oligotrophic and lower in mesotrophic lakes. The overall phylogenetic structure of this aquatic fungal community differed from that described in terrestrial systems: The roots of L. dortmanna hosted more Archaeosporaceae and fewer Glomeraceae taxa than would be expected based on global data from terrestrial AM fungal communities.
There is evidence that anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition enhances carbon (C) sequestration in boreal forest soils. However, it is unclear how free-living saprotrophs (bacteria and fungi, SAP) and ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi responses to N addition impact soil C dynamics. Our aim was to investigate how SAP and EM communities are impacted by N enrichment and to estimate whether these changes influence decay of litter and humus. We conducted a long-term experiment in northern Sweden, maintained since 2004, consisting of ambient, low N additions (0, 3, 6, and 12 kg N ha-1 year-1 ) simulating current N deposition rates in the boreal region, as well as a high N addition (50 kg N ha-1 year-1 ). Our data showed that long-term N enrichment impeded mass loss of litter, but not of humus, and only in response to the highest N addition treatment. Furthermore, our data showed that EM fungi reduced the mass of N and P in both substrates during the incubation period compared to when only SAP organisms were present. Low N additions had no effect on microbial community structure, while the high N addition decreased fungal and bacterial biomasses and altered EM fungi and SAP community composition. Actinomycetes were the only bacterial SAP to show increased biomass in response to the highest N addition. These results provide a mechanistic understanding of how anthropogenic N enrichment can influence soil C accumulation rates and suggest that current N deposition rates in the boreal region (=12 kg N ha-1 year-1 ) are likely to have a minor impact on the soil microbial community and the decomposition of humus and litter.
There is rising awareness that different arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have different autoecology and occupy different soil niches and that the benefits they provide to the host plant are dependent on plant-AM fungus combination. However, the role and community composition of AM fungi in succession are not well known and the northern latitudes remain poorly investigated ecosystems. We studied AM fungal communities in the roots of the grass Deschampsia flexuosa in two different, closely located, successional stages in a northern Aeolian sand area. The AM fungal taxa richness in planta was estimated by cloning and sequencing small subunit ribosomal RNA genes. AM colonization, shoot d (13)C signature, and %N and %C were measured. Soil microbial community structure and AM fungal mycelium abundance were estimated using phospholipid (PLFA) and neutral lipid (NLFA) analyses. The two successional stages were characterized by distinct plant, microbial, and fungal communities. AM fungal species richness was very low in both the early and late successional stages. AM frequency in D. flexuosa roots was higher in the early successional stage than in the late one. The AM fungal taxa retrieved belonged to the genera generally adapted to Arctic or extreme environments. AM fungi seemed to be important in the early stage of the succession, suggesting that AM fungi may help plants to better cope with the harsh environmental conditions, especially in an early successional stage with more extreme environmental fluctuations.
A previous study of 76 plant species on Spitsbergen in the High Arctic concluded that structures resembling arbuscular mycorrhizas were absent from roots. Here, we report a survey examining the roots of 13 grass and forb species collected from 12 sites on the island for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) colonisation. Of the 102 individuals collected, we recorded AM endophytes in the roots of 41 plants of 11 species (Alopecurus ovatus, Deschampsia alpina, Festuca rubra ssp. richardsonii, putative viviparous hybrids of Poa arctica and Poa pratensis, Poa arctica ssp. arctica, Trisetum spicatum, Coptidium spitsbergense, Ranunculus nivalis, Ranunculus pygmaeus, Ranunculus sulphureus and Taraxacum arcticum) sampled from 10 sites. Both coarse AM endophyte, with hyphae of 5-10 µm width, vesicles and occasional arbuscules, and fine endophyte, consisting of hyphae of 1-3 µm width and sparse arbuscules, were recorded in roots. Coarse AM hyphae, vesicles, arbuscules and fine endophyte hyphae occupied 1.0-30.7, 0.8-18.3, 0.7-11.9 and 0.7-12.8% of the root lengths of colonised plants, respectively. Principal component analysis indicated no associations between the abundances of AM structures in roots and edaphic factors. We conclude that the AM symbiosis is present in grass and forb roots on Spitsbergen.
We investigated the ectomycorrhizal communities on the roots of adult trees and seedlings associated with three Norway spruce stands in the Czech Republic using morphological and molecular tools. The stands had different degrees of forest decline due to air pollution. The aims of the study were to obtain information about the belowground ectomycorrhizal community in a heavily damaged spruce forest and to assess whether missing ectomycorrhizal fungal partners could be one of the reasons for the observed lack of regeneration. The ectomycorrhizal species richness on the roots of adult trees was significantly lower in the heavily damaged site Mumlavska hora than in the other two, but less drastically so than that found in a fruitbody survey. The roots of adult trees and seedlings were fully mycorrhizal at this site although they were less species-rich. The most abundant ectomycorrhizal species on the root system of adult trees in all three forest stands was Tylospora fibrillosa, a member of the athelioid clade. It made up over 60% of root tips in Mumlavska hora and its proportion was at least twice that in the other two sites. This species was also an efficient colonizer of roots from seedlings, in particular, in the most damaged site. The different soil properties in this site may have caused the observed differences in the ectomycorrhizal species richness and composition. For example, cation exchange capacity and soil base saturation were lower and the soil more often saturated. However, the number of living trees and their defoliation status may well directly impact the ectomycorrhizal species composition by presumably affecting the amount of carbon delivered to the symbiotic fungal partners. Athelioids and thelephoroids are an important component of the belowground ectomycorrhizal community in most temperate and boreal forests, but the role they play might even be more crucial in stressed forest ecosystems. Based on our results, we suggest that factors other than missing ectomycorrhizal inoculum constrain natural regeneration in the heavily damaged site Mumlavska hora.
Boreal forest soils store a major proportion of the global terrestrial carbon (C) and below-ground inputs contribute as much as above-ground plant litter to the total C stored in the soil. A better understanding of the dynamics and drivers of root-associated fungal communities is essential to predict long-term soil C storage and climate feedbacks in northern ecosystems. We used 454-pyrosequencing to identify fungal communities across fine-scaled soil profiles in a 5000 yr fire-driven boreal forest chronosequence, with the aim of pinpointing shifts in fungal community composition that may underlie variation in below-ground C sequestration. In early successional-stage forests, higher abundance of cord-forming ectomycorrhizal fungi (such as Cortinarius and Suillus species) was linked to rapid turnover of mycelial biomass and necromass, efficient nitrogen (N) mobilization and low C sequestration. In late successional-stage forests, cord formers declined, while ericoid mycorrhizal ascomycetes continued to dominate, potentially facilitating long-term humus build-up through production of melanized hyphae that resist decomposition. Our results suggest that cord-forming ectomycorrhizal fungi and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi play opposing roles in below-ground C storage. We postulate that, by affecting turnover and decomposition of fungal tissues, mycorrhizal fungal identity and growth form are critical determinants of C and N sequestration in boreal forests.
Comment In: New Phytol. 2015 Mar;205(4):1378-8025645716
The number of plant species regarded as non-mycorrhizal increases at higher latitudes, and several plant species in the High-Arctic Archipelago Svalbard have been reported as non-mycorrhizal. We used the rRNA ITS2 and 18S gene markers to survey which fungi, as well as other micro-eukaryotes, were associated with roots of 31 arctic plant species not usually regarded as mycorrhizal in Svalbard. We assessed to what degree the root-associated fungi showed any host preference and whether the phylogeny of the plant hosts may mirror the composition of root-associated fungi. Fungal communities were largely structured according to host plant identity and to a less extent by environmental factors. We observed a positive relationship between the phylogenetic distance of host plants and the distance of fungal community composition between samples, indicating that the evolutionary history of the host plants plays a major role for which fungi colonize the plant roots. In contrast to the ITS2 marker, the 18S rRNA gene marker showed that chytrid fungi were prevalently associated with plant roots, together with a wide spectrum of amoeba-like protists and nematodes. Our study confirms that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are present also in arctic environments in low abundance.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and dark septate endophytic (DSE) fungi are ubiquitous in grass roots, but their colonizations may vary according to latitudinal gradient and site conditions. We investigated how vegetation zone (boreal vs. subarctic), humus thickness, and site openness affect root fungal colonizations of the grass Avenella flexuosa. More precisely, we hypothesized that AM and DSE fungal colonizations would have different responses to environmental conditions such that AM fungi could be more common in boreal zone, whereas we expected DSE fungi to be more affected by the amount of humus. We found site openness to affect AM and DSE fungi in a contrasting manner, in interaction with the vegetation zone. AM colonization was high at open coastal dunes, whereas DSE fungi were more common at forested sites, in the boreal zone. Humus thickness affected AM fungi negatively and DSE fungi positively. To conclude, the observed AM and DSE fungal colonization patterns were largely contrasting. AM fungi were favored in seashore conditions characterized by thin humus layer, whereas DSE fungi were favored in conditions of higher humus availability.
Natural populations thriving in heavy-metal-contaminated ecosystems are often subjected to selective pressures for increased resistance to toxic metals. In the present study we describe a population of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Suillus luteus that colonized a toxic Cu mine spoil in Norway. We hypothesized that this population had developed adaptive Cu tolerance and was able to protect pine trees against Cu toxicity. We also tested for the existence of cotolerance to Cu and Zn in S. luteus. Isolates from Cu-polluted, Zn-polluted, and nonpolluted sites were grown in vitro on Cu- or Zn-supplemented medium. The Cu mine isolates exhibited high Cu tolerance, whereas the Zn-tolerant isolates were shown to be Cu sensitive, and vice versa. This indicates the evolution of metal-specific tolerance mechanisms is strongly triggered by the pollution in the local environment. Cotolerance does not occur in the S. luteus isolates studied. In a dose-response experiment, the Cu sensitivity of nonmycorrhizal Pinus sylvestris seedlings was compared to the sensitivity of mycorrhizal seedlings colonized either by a Cu-sensitive or Cu-tolerant S. luteus isolate. In nonmycorrhizal plants and plants colonized by the Cu-sensitive isolate, root growth and nutrient uptake were strongly inhibited under Cu stress conditions. In contrast, plants colonized by the Cu-tolerant isolate were hardly affected. The Cu-adapted S. luteus isolate provided excellent insurance against Cu toxicity in pine seedlings exposed to elevated Cu levels. Such a metal-adapted Suillus-Pinus combination might be suitable for large-scale land reclamation at phytotoxic metalliferous and industrial sites.
A silica-based propagation medium was developed for large-scale production of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal inoculum by solid state fermentation. Development of the medium was started by screening for an optimal growth medium among six different semisynthetic agar media traditionally used in cultivation of ECM fungi. The majority (65 %) of the twenty tested ECM fungal strains that typically colonize Norway spruce (Picea abies) seedlings grew best on modified Melin-Norkrans (MMN) medium with reduced sugar content (½MMN). In order to develop a nutritionally similar medium for large-scale cultivation of the ECM fungi, we chose silica to form a solid matrix and light brewery malt extract to provide nutrients. The medium was supplemented with a commercial humic acid product that was shown to boost fungal growth. The optimal concentration of the constituents was screened for in two assays by determining the growth rates of seven potential inoculant ECM fungal strains (Amphinema sp., Cenococcum geophilum, Hebeloma sp., Meliniomyces bicolor, Paxillus involutus, Piloderma byssinum, and Tylospora asterophora). As a result, we composed a silica-based mass propagation medium (pH 5.8) containing 2.5 % brewery malt extract and 0.5 g/l humic acid product Lignohumate AM. This medium is easily produced and supported good growth of even the slowly growing and rarely studied Athelioid ECM strains. Furthermore, root systems of Norway spruce nursery seedlings were colonized by the tested ECM fungi by using solid inoculum formulated from the silica medium.