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Diversity and community structure of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with Larix chinensis across the alpine treeline ecotone of Taibai Mountain

Han, Qisheng, Huang, Jian, Long, Dongfeng, Wang, Xiaobing, Liu, Jianjun
Mycorrhiza 2017 v.27 no.5 pp. 487-497
Larix, carbon nitrogen ratio, climate change, ecosystems, ecotones, ectomycorrhizae, forest stands, fungal communities, internal transcribed spacers, mixed forests, mycorrhizal fungi, ribosomal DNA, soil, species diversity, topography, treeline, China
Alpine treeline ecotones represent ecosystems that are vulnerable to climate change. We investigated the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) community, which has potential to stabilize alpine ecosystems. ECM communities associated with Larix chinensis were studied in four zones along a natural ecotone from a mixed forest stand over pure forest stands, the timberline, and eventually, the treeline (3050–3450 m) in Tabai Mountain, China. Sixty operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of ECM fungi were identified by sequencing the rDNA internal transcribed spacer of ECM tips. The richness of ECM species increased with elevation. The soil C/N ratio was the most important factor explaining ECM species richness. The treeline zone harbored some unique ECM fungi whereas no unique genera were observed in the timberline and pure forest zone. Elevation and topography were equally important factors influencing ECM communities in the alpine region. We suggest that a higher diversity of the ECM fungal community associated with L. chinensis in the treeline zone could result from niche differentiation.