Strong host preference of ectomycorrhizal fungi in a Tasmanian wet sclerophyll forest as revealed by DNA barcoding and taxon-specific primers.
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbiosis is a widespread plant nutrition strategy in Australia, especially in semiarid regions. This study aims to determine the diversity, community structure and host preference of ECM fungi in a Tasmanian wet sclerophyll forest. Ectomycorrhizal fungi were identified based on anatomotyping and rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-large subunit (LSU) sequence analysis using taxon-specific primers. Host tree roots were identified based on root morphology and length differences of the chloroplast trnL region. A total of 123 species of ECM fungi were recovered from root tips of Eucalyptus regnans (Myrtaceae), Pomaderris apetala (Rhamnaceae) and Nothofagus cunninghamii (Nothofagaceae). The frequency of two thirds of the most common ECM fungi from several lineages was significantly influenced by host species. The lineages of Cortinarius, Tomentella-Thelephora, Russula-Lactarius, Clavulina, Descolea and Laccaria prevailed in the total community and their species richness and relative abundance did not differ by host species. This study demonstrates that strongly host-preferring, though not directly specific, ECM fungi may dominate the below-ground community. Apart from the richness of Descolea, Tulasnella and Helotiales and the lack of Suillus-Rhizopogon and Amphinema-Tylospora, the ECM fungal diversity and phylogenetic community structure is similar to that in the Holarctic realm.