Spores and sclerotia are the main propagules that allow fungi to persist through unfavorable conditions and disperse into new environments. Despite their importance, very little is known about their longevity and dormancy, especially in ectomycorrhizal fungi. To assess the viability of ectomycorrhizal fungal spores in forest soil, we collected and buried non-sterile forest soil, in pots, in the field distant from an inoculum source. After 6. yr, a subset of this soil was assayed for viable spores by baiting the fungi with Bishop pine (Pinus muricata) seedlings. Our results show that the three most frequent colonizers in year 1 continued to colonize significant percentages of seedlings in year 6: Wilcoxina mikolae (77. %), Rhizopogon vulgaris (13. %) and Suillus brevipes (9. %). While three species that colonized low percentages of seedlings in year 1, Suillus pungens (1. %), Rhizopogon salebrosus (2. %), and Thelephora terrestris (5. %) were not recovered in year 6. Laccaria proxima, a species not seen in year 1, was recovered on a single seedling in year 6. This is the first report of long-term survival of S. brevipes and W. mikolae. Our results reveal a more complete picture of ectomycorrhizal fungal spore longevity in soil spore banks.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Jennifer Kerekes, Valerie Wong, and two anonymous reviewers for useful commentaries on this manuscript. Funding was provided by NSF GRFP and the Mycological Society of America to NHN, and NSF grants DEB 236096 and DEB 0742696 to TDB.
- Ectomycorrhizal fungi
- Spore bank