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Light availability and soil source influence ectomycorrhizal fungal communities on oak seedlings grown in oak- and hemlock-associated soils

Turner, Gregory D., Lewis, J.D., Mates-Muchin, J.T., Schuster, William F., Watt, Laura
Canadian journal of forest research = 2009 v.39 no.7 pp. 1247-1258
mycorrhizal fungi, colonizing ability, genetic variation, community structure, Tsuga canadensis, Quercus rubra, forest soils, light, spatial variation, seedlings, plant growth, host specificity, roots, carbohydrates, forest trees
Forests exhibit spatial heterogeneity in plant composition and light, which may influence ectomycorrhizal fungal (ECM) communities. We investigated whether light and soil source affect ECM colonization and community properties on red oak (Quercus rubra L.) seedlings. Seedlings were grown under 10%, 45%, and full sunlight in soils removed beneath red oak and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr.) trees. Between soils, colonization and diversity were significantly greater in intermediate-high versus low light. Across light levels, colonization, richness, and diversity were greater on seedlings grown in oak versus hemlock soils. The frequency of seedlings colonized by three of the four most common morphotypes was more responsive to light in oak versus hemlock soil. Colonization differences between soil sources were associated with differences in richness, which may in turn reflect host specificity and fine root length differences. Increasing colonization with increasing light was associated with increased richness, which in turn may reflect increased carbon allocation to roots. Results suggest that differences in responses of individual ECM morphotypes coupled with host responses to light and soil source may influence ECM colonization and diversity. Changes in ECM colonization and diversity could in turn affect seedling recruitment, especially for seedlings encountering variable light regimes and host species.