Recent studies using molecular analysis of ectomycorrhizas have revealed that ascomycete fungi, especially members of the order Pezizales, can be important members of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal communities. However, little is known about the ecology and taxonomy of many of these fungi. We used data collected during a wet and a dry period to test the hypothesis that pezizalean EM fungi associated with pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) responded positively to drought stress. We also assessed the phylogenetic relationships among six, unknown pezizalean EM fungi, common to our study sites, using rDNA sequences from the internal transcribed spacer and large subunit (LSU) regions of the ribosomal DNA. Sequences of these fungi were then compared to sequences from known taxa to allow finer-scale identification. Three major findings emerged. First, at two sites, pezizalean EM were 44-95% more abundant during a dry year than a wetter year, supporting the hypothesis that pezizalean EM fungi respond positively to dry conditions. Second, four of the six unknown pezizalean EM fungi associated with P. edulis separated from one another consistently regardless of site or year of collection, suggesting that they represented distinct taxa. Third, comparison with LSU sequences of known members of the Pezizales indicated that these four taxa grouped within the genus Geopora of the family Pyronemataceae. Our results provide further evidence of the importance of pezizalean fungi in the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis and demonstrate high local abundance of members of the genus Geopora in drought-stressed pinyon-juniper woodlands.
- Ascomycete ectomycorrhiza
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology