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Research article2014Peer reviewed

Root-associated fungi of healthy-looking Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies seedlings in Swedish forest nurseries

Stenström, Elna; Ndobe, Ndobe Ernest; Jonsson, Maria; Stenlid, Jan; Menkis, Audrius


The aim of this study was to assess fungal communities in roots of healthy-looking Pinus sylvestris L. and Picea abies (L.) Karst. seedlings in nine forest nurseries in Sweden using a combination of traditional culturing and direct sequencing of internal transcribed spacer of fungal ribosomal RNA (ITS rRNA) from the roots. Culturing from 1800 surface-sterilised root segments resulted in 2387 fungal cultures representing 42 different taxa. Direct sequencing from 180 root segments resulted in 119 ITS rRNA sequences representing 25 different taxa. In total, 55 different fungal taxa were detected using both methods. Although direct sequencing was more efficient than culturing in detecting different fungal taxa, both methods provided complementary information about fungal communities in roots since each detected rather different groups of fungi. The most dominant taxa detected by culturing were Trichoderma viride Pers. (19.5%), Phoma mucivora Davey & Currah (19.1%), Phialocephala fortinii Wang & Wilcox (17.4%) and Meliniomyces variabilis Hambl. & Sigler (10.2%), while Thelephora terrestris Ehrh. (26.1%), Unidentified sp. NS126 (25.2%) and Heliotales sp. C20 (10.1%) were most commonly detected by direct sequencing. In conclusion, results showed that forest nurseries in Sweden harbour diverse communities of fungi associated with the roots of healthy-looking P. sylvestris and P. abies seedlings. Although fungal communities were often dominated by saprotrophs and endophytes, several facultative pathogens were also detected indicating that under suitable conditions they may be a potential threat to the plants.


forest nursery seedlings; root endophytes; pathogens; mycorrhiza

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2014, Volume: 29, number: 1, pages: 12-21