Reciprocal carbon and nitrogen transfer between an ericaceous dwarf shrub and fungi isolated from Piceirhiza bicolorata ectomycorrhizas

  • Grelet G
  • Johnson D
  • Paterson E
 et al. 
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* The overstorey coniferous trees and understorey ericaceous dwarf shrubs of northern temperate and boreal forests have previously been considered to form mycorrhizas with taxonomically and functionally distinct groups of fungi. * Here, we tested the hypothesis that Meliniomyces variabilis and Meliniomyces bicolor, isolated from Piceirhiza bicolorata ectomycorrhizas of pine, can function as ericoid mycorrhizal symbionts with Vaccinium vitis-idaea. We used split-compartment microcosms to measure the reciprocal exchange of (13)C and (15)N between V. vitis-idaea and three fungal isolates in the Hymenoscyphus ericae aggregate isolated from Scots pine ectomycorrhizas (M. variabilis and M. bicolor) or Vaccinium roots (M. variabilis). * The extramatrical fungal mycelium of labelled mycorrhizal plants was significantly enriched in (13)C, and the leaves were significantly enriched in (15)N, compared with nonmycorrhizal and nonlabelled controls. * These findings show for the first time that fungi in the H. ericae aggregate, isolated from pine ectomycorrhizas, can transfer C and N and can thus form functional ericoid mycorrhizas in an understorey ericaceous shrub.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ectomycorrhiza
  • Ericoid mycorrhiza
  • Hymenoscyphus ericae aggregate
  • Meliniomyces spp.
  • Piceirhiza bicolorata
  • Stable isotopes

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  • Gwen Aëlle Grelet

  • David Johnson

  • Eric Paterson

  • Ian C. Anderson

  • Ian J. Alexander

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