Ectomycorrhizal characterisation, species diversity
and community dynamics in Pinus patula Schelcht. et
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) associations are important elements of forest biomes, connecting and transferring nutrients through an intricate and complex system of hyphal networks, ensuring plants of the nutrients they require, in nutrient poor soil. ECM research and particularly investigations into the diversity of the fungal partners has not received much attention in South Africa, hindering the advance of research in this field. This has been attributed to the difficulty of identifying the mycobionts involved in the symbiosis. The objectives of this study were to examine the ECM fungal diversity associating with Pinus patula, in selected forest plantations in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Both morphological and molecular techniques were used to identify specimens of both sporocarp collections and ECM root tip morphotypes. Morphological analysis of the ECM root tips involved characterisation of root morphology such as colour, branching and texture, and anatomical analysis examined hyphal arrangement in the root mantle and rhizomorphs. Molecular analysis involved sequencing of the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) region and comparative BLAST analysis. Twenty-four sporocarp species were identified from 13 genera, namely: Amanita, Boletus, Clavulina, Inocybe, Lactarius, Rhizopogon, Russula, Scleroderma, Suillus, Tricholoma, Thelephora, Tomentella and Xerocomus. ECM root tip analysis led to the characterisation of 7 wild-type morphotypes identified as an Albatrellus sp., 2 Amanita species, a Rhizopogon sp., Thelephora terrestris, a Tomentella sp. and Scleroderma citrinum. A secondary objective was to determine whether fertilisation treatments within the study sites were responsible for differences in fungal species community structure. No evidence of a change in species diversity or shift in species composition was encountered. It is envisaged that these comprehensive ECM descriptions will be used as reference material to stimulate continued research in this field in South Africa.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:biochemistry microbiology biotechnology
Date of Publication:01/01/2008