Extensive knowledge of various ectomycorrhizal fungal communities has been obtained over the past 10 years based on molecular identification of the fungi colonizing fine roots. In contrast, only limited information exists about the species composition of ectomycorrhizal hyphae in soil. This study compared the ectomycorrhizal external mycelial community with the adjacent root-tip community in a Danish beech forest. Sand-filled in-growth mesh bags were used to trap external mycelia by incubating the mesh bags in the soil for 70 days. The adjacent ectomycorrhizal root-tip communities were recorded at the times of insertion and retrieval of the mesh bags. Ectomycorrhizal fungi were identified by sequencing the internal transcribed spacer region. In total, 20, 31 and 24 ectomycorrhizal species were recorded from the two root-tip harvests and from the mesh bags, respectively. Boletoid species were significantly more frequent as mycelia than as root tips, while russuloid and Cortinarius species appeared to be less dominant as mycelia than as root tips. Tomentella species were equally frequent as root tips and as mycelia. These discrepancies between the root-tip and the mycelial view of the ectomycorrhizal fungal community are discussed within the framework of ectomycorrrhizal exploration types.
Keywords: Biodiversity; DNA, Fungal; DNA, Ribosomal Spacer; Fagus; Molecular Sequence Data; Mycelium; Mycorrhizae; Plant Roots; Sequence Analysis, DNA; Soil Microbiology