Phylogenetic divergence in a local population of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Cenococcum geophilum


Author for correspondence: G. W. Douhan Tel: +1 530 754 9894Fax: +1 530 752 5674Email:


  • • Cenococcum geophilum is a widely distributed mycorrhizal species associated with diverse gymnosperm and angiosperm hosts. In previous studies, a significant amount of genetic and genotypic diversity has been detected in this species, despite the fact that C. geophilum is not thought to reproduce by meiotic or mitotic spores.
  • • We conducted a phylogenetic analysis of 103 C. geophilum isolates from a California oak woodland and seven non-California isolates using a glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene. In addition, a subset of isolates was analyzed using sequences from ITS-rDNA, a Group I intron located in the 3′ end of the SSU-rDNA and a portion of the mitochondrial SSU-rDNA.
  • • Phylogenetically distinct lineages, or cryptic species, of C. geophilum were detected at the scale of a single soil sample within our field site. As much genetic diversity was found within a soil sample as was found for isolates collected across the USA.
  • • Our results help explain the large amount of physiological, phenotypic, and genetic differences reported among isolates of C. geophilum from similar as well as diverse geographic regions. The ecological role that these sympatric cryptic species play remains to be determined.