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Pyrola japonica, a partially mycoheterotrophic Ericaceae, has mycorrhizal preference for russulacean fungi in central Japan

Uesugi, Takashi, Nakano, Miho, Selosse, Marc-André, Obase, Keisuke, Matsuda, Yosuke
Mycorrhiza 2016 v.26 no.8 pp. 819-829
Ericaceae, Russula, carbon, clones, ectomycorrhizae, forest types, fungal communities, internal transcribed spacers, mycorrhizal fungi, trees, Japan
Mycorrhizal symbiosis often displays low specificity, except for mycoheterotrophic plants that obtain carbon from their mycorrhizal fungi and often have higher specificity to certain fungal taxa. Partially mycoheterotrophic (or mixotrophic, MX) plant species tend to have a larger diversity of fungal partners, e.g., in the genus Pyrola (Monotropoideae, Ericaceae). Preliminary evidence however showed that the Japanese Pyrola japonica has preference for russulacean fungi based on direct sequencing of the fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region from a single site. The present study challenges this conclusion using (1) sampling of P. japonica in different Japanese regions and forest types and (2) fungal identification by ITS cloning. Plants were sampled from eight sites in three regions, in one of which the fungal community on tree ectomycorrhizal (ECM) tips surrounding P. japonica was also analyzed. In all, 1512 clone sequences were obtained successfully from 35 P. japonica plants and 137 sequences from ECM communities. These sequences were collectively divided into 74 molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs) (51 and 33 MOTUs, respectively). MOTUs from P. japonica involved 36 ECM taxa (96 % of all clones), and 17 of these were Russula spp. (76.2 % of all clones), which colonized 33 of the 35 sampled plants. The MOTU composition significantly differed between P. japonica and ECM tips, although shared species represented 26.3 % of the ECM tips community in abundance. This suggests that P. japonica has a preference for russulacean fungi.