Geothermal soils near Amphitheater Springs in Yellowstone National Park were characterized by high temperatures (up to 70 degrees C), high heavy metal content, low pH values (down to pH 2.7), sparse vegetation, and limited organic carbon. From these soils we cultured 16 fungal species. Two of these species were thermophilic, and six were thermotolerant. We cultured only three of these species from nearby cool (0 to 22 degrees C) soils. Transect studies revealed that higher numbers of CFUs occurred in and below the root zone of the perennial plant Dichanthelium lanuginosum (hot springs panic grass). The dynamics of fungal CFUs in geothermal soil and nearby nongeothermal soil were investigated for 12 months by examining soil cores and in situ mesocosms. For all of the fungal species studied, the temperature of the soil from which the organisms were cultured corresponded with their optimum axenic growth temperature.
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