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In situ collection of endangered arbuscular mychorrhizal fungi in a Mediterranean UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Turrini, Alessandra, Avio, Luciano, Bedini, Stefano, Giovannetti, Manuela
Biodiversity and conservation 2008 v.17 no.3 pp. 643-657
Ammophila arenaria, Scutellospora, anthropogenic activities, beneficial microorganisms, coasts, dunes, mycorrhizal fungi, protected species, sequence analysis
We report the establishment of the first in situ collection of beneficial symbiotic microorganisms (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) in the world, located in an integrally protected area of coastal sand dunes, within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Selva Pisana”, in Tuscany, Italy. In this collection the genus Scutellospora, which has been reported to be threatened by anthropogenic disturbance, was a regular component of Ammophila arenaria and Helichrysum stoechas rhizospheres, and was represented by two species: Scutellospora fulgida and Scutellospora persica. Such species were morphologically identified and molecularly characterised by SSU and ITS sequence analyses. The establishment of an in situ collection of Scutellospora species in a protected area, where anthropogenic impact is under control of national and international authorities, is important for the conservation of rare and endangered microorganisms, representing a precious resource for future generations.