2001: 91(6 Supplement): S163-S164.

Patterns in ectomycorrhizal community structure in pinaceous ecosystems

Bruns, T. D. 1, E. A. Lilleskov1, M. I. Bidartondo1 and T. R. Horton2
1University of California at Berkeley, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, 321 Koshland Hall, Berkeley, California 94720-3102.
2Restoration Mycology, 350 Illick Hall, SUNY-ESF, Syracuse NY 13210.

In the last six years below-ground studies have begun to yield a more detailed understanding of the taxonomic, genetic, and spatial structure of fungal ectomycorrhizal communities. Across site comparisons of mature pinaceous forests show that members of the Russulaceae, Thelephoraceae, and various non-thelephoroid resupinate taxa are often dominant. While in fire-disturbed communities Ascomycetes and Suilloid taxa are the typical dominants. There is good evidence that many of the latter are present in soil spore banks prior to disturbance. Within individual sites, species-level community composition varies at all spatial scales, and correlates with distance only at scales below two meters. Individual species can exhibit clumped or nearly random distributions. Genet mapping of species in the Russulaceae, Amanitaceae, and Thelephoraceae, reveal that individuals are spatially restricted, and that even in undisturbed forest settings spore colonization must be an important ongoing process. The fact that patterns are often seen at higher taxonomic levels, could lead one to conclude that many species are substitutable or "redundant". However, the one to one correspondence between many non-photosynthetic mycoheterotrophic plants and various fungal species, shows that individual fungal species may often have subtle, but direct, effects on plant community composition.

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