New Phytol 2010 May 25;186(3):755-68. Epub 2010 Feb 25.
School of Biological Sciences, Plant and Soil Science, University of Aberdeen, St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK.
Spatial analysis was used to explore the distribution of individual species in an ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal community to address: whether mycorrhizas of individual ECM fungal species were patchily distributed, and at what scale; and what the causes of this patchiness might be. Ectomycorrhizas were extracted from spatially explicit samples of the surface organic horizons of a pine plantation. The number of mycorrhizas of each ECM fungal species was recorded using morphotyping combined with internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequencing. Semivariograms, kriging and cluster analyses were used to determine both the extent and scale of spatial autocorrelation in species abundances, potential interactions between species, and change over time. The mycorrhizas of some, but not all, ECM fungal species were patchily distributed and the size of patches differed between species. The relative abundance of individual ECM fungal species and the position of patches of ectomycorrhizas changed between years. Spatial and temporal analysis revealed a dynamic ECM fungal community with many interspecific interactions taking place, despite the homogeneity of the host community. The spatial pattern of mycorrhizas was influenced by the underlying distribution of fine roots, but local root density was in turn influenced by the presence of specific fungal species.