Invasion potential and host shifts of Australian and African ectomycorrhizal fungi in mixed eucalypt plantations
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- •Transportation of forestry materials results in unintended co-introduction of nonnative species that may cause enormous ecological or economic damage. While the invasion ecology of plants and animals is relatively well-known, that of microorganisms, except aboveground pathogens, remains poorly understood.
- •This work addresses host shifts and invasion potential of root symbiotic ectomycorrhizal fungi that were co-introduced with Australian eucalypts and planted in clear-cut miombo woodlands in Zambia, south-central Africa.
- •By use of rDNA and plastid intron sequence analysis for identification and phylogenetic techniques for inferring fungal origin, we demonstrated that host shifts were uncommon in the Australian fungi, but frequent in the African fungi, especially in mixed plantations where roots of different trees intermingle.
- •There was evidence for naturalization, but not for invasion by Australian ectomycorrhizal fungi. Nevertheless, the fungi introduced may pose an invasion risk along with further adaptation to local soil environment and host trees. Inoculation of eucalypts with native edible fungi may ameliorate the potential invasion risks of introduced fungi and provide an alternative source of nutrition.