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Keywords:

  • Sulphur dioxide;
  • angiosperm tree leaf litter;
  • saprotrophic fungi;
  • fungal community changes

summary

Comparisons of the saprotrophic fungi isolated from ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.), birch (Betula spp.), hazel (Corylus avellana L.), pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.), sessile oak [Q. petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl.] and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.) leaf litters from three woodlands exposed to low, medium and high levels (c. 0.0[RIGHTWARDS ARROW] 0.060μl l−1) of sulphur dioxide (SO2) showed that the composition of the fungal communities differed between sites. Fumigation of angiosperm tree leaf litters from the least and the most polluted site with environmentally-realistic concentrations (0.010–0.030 μl1) of SO2 for 16–68 wk in an open-air field-fumigation experiment resulted in marked changes in the composition of the fungal communities in the leaf litters, comparable with differences found between the woodland sites. Cladosporium spp., Epicoccutn nigrum Link, Fitsarium spp. and Phoma exigua Desm. were less commonly isolated from leaf litters exposed to SO2, whereas Coniothyrium quercinum Sacc. var. glandicola Grove, Cylindrocarpon orthosporum (Sacc.) Wollenw. and Penicillium spp. were more frequently isolated from fumigated litters. However, few differences could be detected in the response to SO2 of the mycofloras of leaf litters originating from different woodland sites. In general, SO2 did not affect the total extent of fungal occupancy of the microsites in the litter, as fungal species which decreased in abundance on exposure to the gas appeared to be replaced in the litter by other species more tolerant to the gas. SO2 therefore appeared to be selectively toxic to saprotrophic fungi isolated from these litters.