We investigated whether the diversity, endemicity and specificity of alder symbionts could be changed by isolation in a Mediterranean glacial refugium. We studied both ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi and nitrogen-fixing actinobacteria associated with alders, and compared their communities in Corsica and on the European continent. Nodules and root tips were sampled on the three alder species present in Corsica and continental France and Italy. Phylogenies based on internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and a multilocus sequence analysis approach were used to characterize fungal and Frankia species, respectively. Patterns of diversity, endemism and specialization were compared between hosts and regions for each symbiont community. In Corsica, communities were not generally richer than on the mainland. The species richness per site depended mainly on host identity: Alnus glutinosa and Alnus cordata hosted richer Frankia and EM communities, respectively. Half of the Frankia species were endemic to Corsica against only 4% of EM species. Corsica is not a hotspot of diversity for all alder symbionts but sustains an increased frequency of poor-dispersers such as hypogeous fungi. Generalist EM fungi and host-dependent profusely sporulating (Sp+) Frankia were abundantly associated with Corsican A. cordata, a pattern related to a more thermophilic and xerophylic climate and to the co-occurrence with other host trees.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Jean Alessandri (SociétéMycologique d’Ajaccio), La€etitia Hugot (Conservatoire Botanique de Corse), Marc-André Selosse (MHNH, Paris), Sonia Ravera (Orto Botanico di Roma), Alessandro Bellino and Domenico Puntillo for their help with sampling in Corsica or Italy. We also thank Ian Dickie, Peter Kennedy and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments that helped to improve this paper, and Benjamin Durring-ton and Alain Roy for editing the text. M.R. was funded by an EC2CO MicrobiEn grant (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France), and A.C.P. by a doctoral fellowship (Ministère de l’Education Nationale, de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche, France).
- Alnus (alders)
- community ecology
- ectomycorrhiza (EM)