Growth rates of ectomycorrhizal fungi were measured in pure culture at pH 3–8 on MMN-agar and sterilized peat, with and without nutrients added. Mycorrhizas were synthesized with Pinus sylvestris L. seedlings and the growth rate of the external mycelium was measured in peat at pH 3.8 and 7.3. The fungi were three isolates of Piloderma croceum Erikss. & Hjorts., two isolates of an unidentified (pink) mycorrhizal type and one isolate of another unidentified (white long) mycorrhizal type, all isolated from P. sylvestris roots.
All three fungi showed much higher (2–5 times) growth rates when grown as symbionts than when grown in pure culture. The P. croceum isolates also grew as symbionts at pH 7.3, where no growth occurred in pure culture. These findings emphasize the danger of generalizing from data obtained in pure culture studies to explain what may happen when fungi grow in symbiosis with host plants.
Generally, growth rates in pure culture were higher and the pH tolerance levels were wider on agar than on peat. The exceptions were one P. croceum isolate, which had the fastest pure culture growth rate on peat with MMN, and the pink isolates, which grew at higher pH on peat than on agar. There were no significant differences between growth on peat with and without MMN.