Ectomycorrhizal networks and seedling establishment during early primary succession


Author for correspondence: Kazuhide Nara Tel: +81 424 655601 Fax: +81 424 655601 Email:


  • • Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal mycelia are the main organs for nutrient uptake in many woody plants, and often connect seedlings to mature trees. While it is known that resources are shared among connected plants via common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs), the net effects of CMNs on seedling performance in the field are almost unknown.
  • • CMNs of individual ECM fungal species were produced in an early succession volcanic desert by transplanting current-year seedlings of Salix reinii with ECM mother trees that had been inoculated with one of 11 dominant ECM fungal species.
  • • Most seedlings were connected to individual CMNs without being infected by other ECM fungi. Although control seedlings showed poor growth under severe nutrient competition with larger nonmycorrhizal mother trees, nutrient acquisition and growth of seedlings connected to CMNs were improved with most fungal species.
  • • The positive effects of CMNs on seedling performance were significantly different among ECM fungal species; for example, the maximum difference in seedling nitrogen acquisition was 1 : 5.9. The net effects of individual CMNs in the field and interspecific variation among ECM fungal species are shown.