• basidiomycetes;
  • ectomycorrhizal fungi;
  • inoculation;
  • introgression;
  • Laccaria spp.;
  • population structure;
  • strain survival

Selected strains of ectomycorrhizal fungi, such as the basidiomycete Laccaria bicolor, are currently being used as inoculants in nurseries to improve growth of forest trees after outplanting. Information is needed on the survival of these introduced strains in forests and their impact on indigenous biodiversity. Dissemination and persistence of an American strain, L. bicolor S238N, were studied 10 years after outplanting in a Douglas fir plantation located at Saint-Brisson (Morvan, France). About 430 Laccaria spp. sporophores were collected over 3 years. Inheritance of nuclear ribosomal DNA, as well as RAPD markers, was characterized in L. bicolor S238N, using a haploid progeny set of 91 monokaryons. More than 50 markers were identified (19 heterozygous and 33 homozygous or cytoplasmic markers), which unambiguously confirmed that the introduced strain was still present in the inoculated plots. Neither selfing (P < 0.0008) nor introgression with indigenous strains was detected although in vitro interfertility between the American strain and indigenous L. bicolor was identified. No ingress of the introduced genet into adjacent uninoculated plots colonized by various local Laccaria genets was detected. It is proposed that the spatial distributions identified have developed through mycelial propagation of the introduced strain and intraspecific competition with native genets. Although longer-term data is still lacking, the stability of the inoculant strain and the limited disturbance to indigenous populations described support large-scale nursery production of this host-fungal combination.