Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2024Peer reviewed

Metatranscriptomics sheds light on the links between the functional traits of fungal guilds and ecological processes in forest soil ecosystems

Auer, Lucas; Buee, Marc; Fauchery, Laure; Lombard, Vincent; Barry, Kerry W.; Clum, Alicia; Copeland, Alex; Daum, Chris; Foster, Brian; LaButti, Kurt; Singan, Vasanth; Yoshinaga, Yuko; Martineau, Christine; Alfaro, Manuel; Castillo, Federico J.; Imbert, J. Bosco; Ramirez, Lucia; Castanera, Raoul; Pisabarro, Antonio G.; Finlay, Roger; Lindahl, Bjorn; Olson, Ake; Seguin, Armand; Kohler, Annegret; Henrissat, Bernard; Grigoriev, Igor V.; Martin, Francis M.
Show less authors


Soil fungi belonging to different functional guilds, such as saprotrophs, pathogens, and mycorrhizal symbionts, play key roles in forest ecosystems. To date, no study has compared the actual gene expression of these guilds in different forest soils.We used metatranscriptomics to study the competition for organic resources by these fungal groups in boreal, temperate, and Mediterranean forest soils. Using a dedicated mRNA annotation pipeline combined with the JGI MycoCosm database, we compared the transcripts of these three fungal guilds, targeting enzymes involved in C- and N mobilization from plant and microbial cell walls.Genes encoding enzymes involved in the degradation of plant cell walls were expressed at a higher level in saprotrophic fungi than in ectomycorrhizal and pathogenic fungi. However, ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi showed similarly high expression levels of genes encoding enzymes involved in fungal cell wall degradation. Transcripts for N-related transporters were more highly expressed in ectomycorrhizal fungi than in other groups. We showed that ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi compete for N in soil organic matter, suggesting that their interactions could decelerate C cycling.Metatranscriptomics provides a unique tool to test controversial ecological hypotheses and to better understand the underlying ecological processes involved in soil functioning and carbon stabilization.


forest soil; functional traits; fungal guilds; metatranscriptomics; organic matter degradation

Published in

New Phytologist
2024, Volume: 242, number: 4, pages: 1676-1690 Publisher: WILEY