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Summary

Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) roots represent important niches for interactions with bacteria and ascomycete fungi, since they have a large surface area and receive a direct supply of plant assimilates from their tree hosts. We tested the hypothesis that the roots colonized by specific ECM fungi harbour distinct bacteria/ascomycete communities. Roots were collected from two different locations in a subarctic shrub forest dominated by Betula pubescens. Bacterial and ascomycete communities were analysed by PCR-DGGE and sequencing, in roots colonized by five frequently observed ECM fungi, Leccinum variicolor, Piloderma fallax, Tomentellopsis submollis, Lactarius torminosus and Pseudotomentella tristis. The bacterial communities associated with P. fallax- or P. tristis-colonized roots were distinct from those associated with roots colonized by three other ECM fungi at both sampling locations. Bacterial communities associated with T. submollis-, L. torminosus- and L. variicolor-colonized roots were more similar to each other. Lactarius- and Pseudotomentella-colonized roots hosted distinct ascomycete communities at one site while only the community associated with Lactarius was distinct at the second location. The results thus suggest that while the community structure of bacteria colonizing ECM roots can be influenced by the local soil environment, there can also be a strong selective effect of particular fungal symbionts.