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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Impact of Heterobasidion root-rot on fine root morphology and associated fungi in Picea abies stands on peat soils

Gaitnieks, Talis; Klavina, Darta; Muiznieks, Indrikis; Pennanen, Taina; Velmala, Sannakajsa; Vasaitis, Rimvydas; Menkis, Audrius

Abstract

We examined differences in fine root morphology, mycorrhizal colonisation and root-inhabiting fungal communities between Picea abies individuals infected by Heterobasidion root-rot compared with healthy individuals in four stands on peat soils in Latvia. We hypothesised that decreased tree vitality and alteration in supply of photosynthates belowground due to root-rot infection might lead to changes in fungal communities of tree roots. Plots were established in places where trees were infected and in places where they were healthy. Within each stand, five replicate soil cores with roots were taken to 20 cm depth in each root-rot infected and uninfected plot. Root morphological parameters, mycorrhizal colonisation and associated fungal communities, and soil chemical properties were analysed. In three stands root morphological parameters and in all stands root mycorrhizal colonisation were similar between root-rot infected and uninfected plots. In one stand, there were significant differences in root morphological parameters between root-rot infected versus uninfected plots, but these were likely due to significant differences in soil chemical properties between the plots. Sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer of fungal nuclear rDNA from ectomycorrhizal (ECM) root morphotypes of P. abies revealed the presence of 42 fungal species, among which ECM basidiomycetes Tylospora asterophora (24.6 % of fine roots examined), Amphinema byssoides (14.5 %) and Russula sapinea (9.7 %) were most common. Within each stand, the richness of fungal species and the composition of fungal communities in root-rot infected versus uninfected plots were similar. In conclusion, Heterobasidion root-rot had little or no effect on fine root morphology, mycorrhizal colonisation and composition of fungal communities in fine roots of P. abies growing on peat soils.

Keywords

Norway spruce; Root-rot; Ectomycorrhizal fungi; Pathogens; Organic soil

Published in

Mycorrhiza
2016, Volume: 26, number: 5, pages: 465-473
Publisher: SPRINGER