Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities are dominated by mammalian dispersed truffle-like taxa in north-east Australian woodlands

Nuske, S.J., Anslan, S., Tedersoo, L., Congdon, B.C., and Abell, S.E. (2019) Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities are dominated by mammalian dispersed truffle-like taxa in north-east Australian woodlands. Mycorrhiza, 29. pp. 181-193.

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Mycorrhizal fungi are very diverse, including those that produce truffle-like fruiting bodies. Truffle-like fungi are hypogeous and sequestrate (produced below-ground, with an enclosed hymenophore) and rely on animal consumption, mainly by mammals, for spore dispersal. This dependence links mycophagous mammals to mycorrhizal diversity and, assuming truffle-like fungi are important components of mycorrhizal communities, to plant nutrient cycling and ecosystem health. These links are largely untested as currently little is known about mycorrhizal fungal community structure and its dependence on mycophagous mammals. We quantified the mycorrhizal fungal community in the north-east Australian woodland, including the portion interacting with ten species of mycophagous mammals. The study area is core habitat of an endangered fungal specialist marsupial, Bettongia tropica, and as such provides baseline data on mycorrhizal fungi-mammal interactions in an area with no known mammal declines. We examined the mycorrhizal fungi in root and soil samples via high-throughput sequencing and compared the observed taxa to those dispersed by mycophagous mammals at the same locations. We found that the dominant root-associating ectomycorrhizal fungal taxa (> 90% sequence abundance) included the truffle-like taxa Mesophellia, Hysterangium and Chondrogaster. These same taxa were also present in mycophagous mammalian diets, with Mesophellia often dominating. Altogether, 88% of truffle-like taxa from root samples were shared with the fungal specialist diet and 52% with diets from generalist mammals. Our data suggest that changes in mammal communities, particularly the loss of fungal specialists, could, over time, induce reductions to truffle-like fungal diversity, causing ectomycorrhizal fungal communities to shift with unknown impacts on plant and ecosystem health.

Item ID: 57269
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1890
Keywords: sequestrate fungi; truffle-like fungi; mycophagy; ecosystem interactions; Bettongia tropica; ectomycorrhizal fungi
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), Australasian Mycological Society, North Queensland Wildlife Trust, Australian Government
Projects and Grants: JCU Australian Postgraduate Award, WTMA Student Grant 916, Australasian Mycological Society Research Award (2014), Australian Government Caring for our Country 2 Target Area Grant 2013/14 (Project ID: TAG14-00542)
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2019 03:37
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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