Gorzelak, Monika , Massicotte, Hugues , Hambleton, Sarah .
Assemblages of ericoid mycorrhizal and root-associated fungi from Vaccinium membranaceum across an elevation gradient in BC’s eastern Rocky Mountains.
Root-associated fungi may form mutualistic ericoid mycorrhizas with ericaceous plants. Given different habitats and abiotic factors, the community of fungi associated with a particular root system is hypothesized to change in response to changing needs of both fungus and plant. Fungi associated with Vaccinium membranaceum (huckleberry) roots were assessed over four elevations on McBride peak in British Columbia’s eastern Rocky Mountains. Ten randomly selected plants were excavated from each targeted zone: the alpine (highest elevation), Engelmann-Spruce sub-alpine fir and Interior Cedar Hemlock (mid-elevation), and Sub-boreal spruce (lowest elevation). Plants at higher elevations were older and had higher leaf mass to area ratios than those at lower elevations. Higher elevation sites were wetter and had more acidic soils with lower soil nitrogen content compared to lower elevation sites. Fungal diversity was assessed directly (extraction of fungal DNA from roots) and indirectly (culturing from surface sterilized roots). A total of 460 fungal cultures were isolated, yielding 20 different fungal taxa. On average, each plant had five distinct fragments, each one representing a different taxon, using Length-Heterogeneity PCR, and three cultured taxa; maximum yields were 20 fragments and five taxa. For the same plant, there was no correlation between the values obtained by the two approaches. Analysis indicated that alpine plants associated with significantly different assemblages of fungi compared to lower elevations, for both direct and indirect approaches. Phialocephala fortinii was most commonly isolated, occurring frequently at lower elevations sites. Cryptosporiopsis sp. were also found at lower elevations, but in lower abundance. Rhizoscyphus ericae and Meliniomyces were found most often at higher elevations. Although ecological function is not well understood in situ, V. membranaceum fungal assemblages vary over an elevation gradient.
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1 - University of Northern British Columbia, College of Science and Management, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2M 4Z9, Canada
2 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Biodiversity (Mycology and Botany), K.W. Neatby Building, Central Experimental Farm, 960 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C6, Canada
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Time: 2:45 PM