EcM fungal community structure, but not diversity, altered in a Pb-contaminated shooting range in a boreal coniferous forest site in Southern Finland


  • Editor: Philippe Lemanceau

Correspondence: Nan Hui, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140, Lahti, Finland. Tel.: +358 9 191 20343; fax: +358 9 191 20331; e-mail:


Boreal forests contain diverse fungal communities that form essential ectomycorrhizal symbioses with trees. To determine the effects of lead (Pb) contamination on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities associated with the dominant pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), we surveyed sporocarps for 3 years, analyzed morphotyped ectomycorrhizal root tips by direct sequencing, and 454-sequenced fungal communities that grew into in-growth bags during a 2-year incubation at a shooting range where sectors vary in the Pb load. We recorded a total of 32 ectomycorrhizal fungi that formed conspicuous sporocarps, 27 ectomycorrhizal fungal phylotypes from 294 root tips, and 116 ectomycorrhizal fungal operation taxonomic unit (OTUs) from a total of 8194 internal transcribed spacer-2 454 sequences. Our ordination analyses by nonparametric multidimensional scaling (NMS) indicated that the Pb enrichment induced a shift in the ectomycorrhizal community composition. This was visible as indicative trends in the sporocarp and root tip data sets, but was explicitly clear in the communities observed in the in-growth bags. The compositional shift in the ectomycorrhizal community was mainly attributable to an increase in the frequencies of OTUs assigned to genus Thelephora and to a decrease in the OTUs assigned to Pseudotomentella, Suillus, and Tylospora in Pb-contaminated areas when compared with the control. While the compositional shifts are clear, their functional consequences for the dominant trees or soil ecosystem function remain undetermined.