Diversity and specificity of ectomycorrhizal fungi retrieved from an old-growth Mediterranean forest dominated by Quercus ilex
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- • We analysed the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal diversity in a Mediterranean old-growth Quercus ilex forest stand from Corsica (France), where Arbutus unedo was the only other ECM host.
- • On a 6400 m2 stand, we investigated whether oak age and host species shaped below-ground ECM diversity. Ectomycorrhizas were collected under Q. ilex individuals of various ages (1 yr seedlings; 3–10 yr saplings; old trees) and A. unedo. They were typed by ITS–RFLP analysis and identified by match to RFLP patterns of fruitbodies, or by sequencing.
- • A diversity of 140 taxa was found among 558 ectomycorrhizas, with many rare taxa. Cenococcum geophilum dominated (35% of ECMs), as well as Russulaceae, Cortinariaceae and Thelephoraceae. Fungal species richness was comparable above and below ground, but the two levels exhibited < 20% overlap in fungal species composition.
- • Quercus ilex age did not strongly shape ECM diversity. The two ECM hosts, A. unedo and Q. ilex, tended to share few ECM species (< 15% of the ECM diversity). Implications for oak forest dynamics are discussed.