We have examined fine-scale genetic structure of the symbiotic ectomycorrhizal fungi Rhizopogon occidentalis and R. vulgaris on two of the California Channel Islands using five and six microsatellite loci, respectively. Both Rhizopogon species are sympatric on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands and are ectomycorrhizal with bishop pine (Pinus muricata) on both islands or Santa Rosa Island Torrey pine (P. torreyana ssp. insularis) on Santa Rosa. The combination of disjunct pine host distributions and geographic barriers within and among the islands have created highly structured Rhizopogon populations over very short distances (8.5 km on Santa Cruz Island; FST = 0.258, FST = 0.056, R. occidentalis and R. vulgaris, respectively). Both species show similar patterns of genetic differentiation as a result of limited dispersal between host populations as revealed by a significant isolation by distance relationship (r = 0.69, P < 0.04; r = 0.93, P < 0.001, R. occidentalis and R. vulgaris, respectively) and Bayesian clustering analyses, and is most likely a function of the small foraging range of the few mammals that disperse Rhizopogon on these islands and the enormous spore bank characteristic of Rhizopogon species.
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