Does proximity to mature trees influence ectomycorrhizal fungus communities of Douglas-fir seedlings?
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- • The influence of mature trees on colonization of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings by ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) is not well understood. Here, the EMF communities of seedlings planted near and far from trees are compared with each other, with EMF of seedlings potted in field soils and with EMF of mature trees.
- • Seedlings were planted within 6 m, or beyond 16 m, from residual Douglas-fir trees in recently harvested green-tree retention units in Washington State, USA, or potted in soils gathered from near each residual tree. Mature tree roots were sampled by partly excavating the root system. The EMF communities were assessed by polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism and sequence analysis of ribosomal RNA genes.
- • Seedlings near trees had higher species richness and diversity of EMF communities compared with seedlings far from trees. The EMF communities of seedlings near trees were more similar to those of mature trees, while seedlings far from trees were more similar to glasshouse seedlings.
- • By enhancing the EMF diversity of seedlings, residual trees may maintain or accelerate the re-establishment of mycorrhizal communities associated with mature forests.