Diversity of an ectomycorrhizal fungal community studied by a root tip and total soil DNA approach

Landeweert, R.; Leeflang, P.; Smit, E.; Kuyper, T.W.


Molecular methods based on soil DNA extracts are increasingly being used to study the fungal diversity of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal communities in soil. Contrary to EM root tip identification, the use of molecular methods enables identification of extramatrical mycelia in soil. To compare fungal diversity as determined by root tip identification and mycelial identification, six soil samples were analysed. Root tips were extracted from the six samples and after amplification, the basidiomycete diversity on the root tips was analysed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The soil from the six samples was sieved, total soil DNA was extracted and after amplification, the basidiomycete diversity in the soil fractions was analysed by DGGE. Fourteen different bands were excised from the DGGE gel and sequenced; fungal taxon names could be assigned to eight bands. Out of a total of 14 fungal taxa detected in soil, 11 fungal taxa were found on root tips, of which seven were EM fungal taxa. To examine whether the sieving treatment would affect EM species diversity, two different sieve mesh sizes were used and in addition, the organic soil fraction was analysed separately. DGGE analysis showed no differences in banding pattern for the different soil fractions. The organic fraction gave the highest DGGE band intensities. This work demonstrates that there is a high correspondence between basidiomycete diversity detected by molecular analysis of root tips and soil samples, irrespective of the soil fraction being analysed