High diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a boreal herb-rich coniferous forest


Author for correspondence:
Maarja Öpik
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  • • Here, the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi was determined in a boreal herb-rich coniferous forest in relation to environmental variables.
  • • Root samples of five plant species (Fragaria vesca, Galeobdolon luteum, Hepatica nobilis, Oxalis acetosella and Trifolium pratense) were analysed from stands differing in age and forest management intensity.
  • • Thirty-four Glomeromycota taxa (small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene (SSU rDNA) sequence groups) were detected from 90 root samples (911 clones), including eight new taxa. Sequence groups related to Glomus intraradices were most common (MO-G3 and MO-G13). Samples of H. nobilis were colonized by more AM fungal taxa (3.68 ± 0.31) than those of O. acetosella (2.69 ± 0.34), but did not differ significantly in this respect from those of F. vesca (3.15 ± 0.38). Effects of forest management, host plant species (except above) or season on the number or composition of fungal taxa in root samples were not detected, and neither were they explained by environmental variables (vegetation, soil and light conditions).
  • • This is the most taxon-rich habitat described to date in terms of root-colonizing Glomeromycota. The data demonstrate the importance of temperate coniferous forests as habitats for AM fungi and plants. Lack of obvious fungal community patterns suggests more complex effects of biotic and abiotic factors, and possibly no adverse effect of common forest management practices on AM fungal diversity.