Get access

Diversity and abundance of resupinate thelephoroid fungi as ectomycorrhizal symbionts in Swedish boreal forests


U. Kõljalg. Institute of Zoology & Botany, Estonian Agricultural University, 181 Riia St., 51014 Tartu, Estonia. Fax: + 37 27 383013;


Resupinate thelephoroid fungi (hereafter called tomentelloid fungi) have a world-wide distribution and comprise ≈70 basidiomycete species with inconspicuous, resupinate sporocarps. It is only recently that their ability to form ectomycorrhizas (EM) has been realized, so their distribution, abundance and significance as mycobionts in forest ecosystems is still largely unexplored. In order to provide baseline data for future ecological studies of tomentelloid fungi, we explored their presence and abundance in nine Swedish boreal forests in which the EM communities had been analysed. Phylogenetic analyses were used to compare the internal transcribed spacer of nuclear ribosomal DNA (ITS rDNA) sequence data obtained from mycobionts on single ectomycorrhizal tips with that obtained from sporocarps of identified tomentelloid fungi. Five species of Tomentella and one species of Pseudotomentella were identified as ectomycorrhizal fungi. The symbiotic nature of Tomentella bryophila, T. stuposa, T. badia and T. atramentaria is demonstrated for the first time. T. stuposa and Pseudotomentellatristis were the most commonly encountered tomentelloid fungi, with the other species, including T. sublilacina, only being recorded from single stands. Overall, tomentelloid fungi were found in five of the studies, colonizing between 1 and 8% of the mycorrhizal root tips. Two of the five sites supported several tomentelloid species. Tomentelloid fungi appear to be relatively common ectomycorrhizal symbionts with a wide distribution in Swedish coniferous forests. The results are in accordance with accumulating data that fungal species which lack conspicuous sporocarps may be of considerable importance in EM communities.