Post-fire dynamics of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest of Poland

Jacek Olchowik, Dorota Hilszczańska, Marcin Studnicki, Tadeusz Malewski, Khalil Kariman, Zbigniew Borowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Global warming and drying have markedly enhanced in most forests the risk of fires across the world, which can affect the taxonomic and functional composition of key tree-associated organisms such as ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. The present study was conducted to characterise the alterations in the extent of root ECM colonisation, the ECM fungal communities, and their exploration types (i.e., indicator of ECM soil foraging strategies) in regenerated pines within a burned site as compared with an unburned site (five years after the fire event) in the Forest District Myszyniec, Poland. Methods. To assess the ECM fungal communities of burned and control sites, soil soil-root monoliths were collected from the study sites in September 2019. A total of 96 soil subsamples were collected for soil analysis and mycorrhizal assessment (6 trees × 2 sites × 4 study plots × 2 microsites (north and south) = 96 subsamples). Results. The percentage of root ECM colonisation was significantly lower in the burned site in comparison with the unburned (control) site. However, the ECM species richness did not differ between the control and burned sites. The identified ECM species in both sites were Imleria badia, Thelephora terrestris, Russula paludosa, R. badia, R. turci, R. vesca, Lactarius plumbeus, Phialocephala fortinii, and Hyaloscypha variabilis. The most frequent species in the burned and control sites were I. badia and T. terrestris, respectively. The relative abundances of contact, medium-distance smooth and long-distance exploration types in the burned site were significantly different from the control site, dominated by the medium-distance exploration type in both sites. The abundance of the long-distance exploration type in the burned site was markedly greater (27%) than that of the control site (14%), suggesting that the fire event had favoured this ECM foraging strategy. The results demonstrated that the fire led to reduced ECM colonisation of Scots pine trees in the burned site whereas the species richness was not affected, which can be attributed to degrees of fire-resistance in the ECM species, survival of ECM propagules in deeper soil layers, and/or continuous entry of spores/propagules of the ECM fungi from the adjacent forests via wind, water run-off or animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12076
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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