Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

In vitro evidence of root colonization suggests ecological versatility in the genus Mycena

Thoen, Ella; Harder, Christoffer Bugge; Kauserud, Havard; Botnen, Synnove S.; Vik, Unni; Taylor, Andy F. S.; Menkis, Audrius; Skrede, Inger


The root-associated habit has evolved on numerous occasions in different fungal lineages, suggesting a strong evolutionary pressure for saprotrophic fungi to switch to symbiotic associations with plants. Species within the ubiquitous, saprotrophic genus Mycena are frequently major components in molecular studies of root-associated fungal communities, suggesting that an evaluation of their trophic status is warranted. Here, we report on interactions between a range of Mycena species and the plant Betula pendula.In all, 17 Mycena species were inoculated onto B. pendula seedlings. Physical interactions between hyphae and fine roots were examined using differential staining and fluorescence microscopy. Physiological interactions were investigated using C-14 and P-32 to show potential transfer between symbionts.All Mycena species associated closely with fine roots, showing hyphal penetration into the roots, which in some cases were intracellular. Seven species formed mantle-like structures around root tips, but none formed a Hartig net. Mycena pura and Mycena galopus both enhanced seedling growth, with M. pura showing significant transfer of P-32 to the seedlings.Our results support the view that several Mycena species can associate closely with plant roots and some may potentially occupy a transitional state between saprotrophy and biotrophy.


biotrophy-saprotrophy continuum; ecological niches; functional diversity; Mycena; root-associations

Published in

New Phytologist
2020, volume: 227, number: 2, pages: 601-612
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Thoen, Ella
Univ Oslo
Harder, Christoffer Bugge
Texas Tech Univ
Kauserud, Havard
Univ Oslo
Botnen, Synnove S.
Univ Oslo
Vik, Unni
Univ Oslo
Taylor, Andy F. S.
Univ Aberdeen
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology
Skrede, Inger
Univ Oslo

UKÄ Subject classification


Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)