University of Oulu

Mycorrhizal responses to defoliation of woody hosts

Saved in:
Author: Saravesi, Karita1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: 2008
Publish Date: 2008-06-16
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Science of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Kuusamonsali (Auditorium YB210), Linnanmaa, on June 26th, 2008, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Douglas L. Godbold
Docent Juha Mikola


Mycorrhizal fungi are important contributors to the functioning of boreal forests, since they act in the bilateral carbon and nutrient transport between above- and belowground parts of the ecosystem. In ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbiosis of woody host plants, both fungal and plant partners depend on resources provided by the other. A single tree may simultaneously host several ECM fungal partners, which greatly enhance the host’s nutrient uptake. At the same time nearly 20% of host primary production is allocated to mycorrhizal fungi.

Although fungi depend on host-derived carbon, it is poorly understood how reduced carbon availability, e.g., due to herbivory, affects the ECM fungal symbionts. In this thesis I studied the impact of simulated insect defoliation or mammal browsing on mycorrhizal fungi of boreal woody hosts. Quantitative and qualitative changes in biomass partitioning in different fungal compartments were detected. None of the experiments showed that defoliation or shoot clipping treatments reduced the intensity of ECM colonisation, while treatments often shifted fungal composition towards less biomass producing ECM morphotypes. Above- and belowground diversity in ECM symbionts tended to decrease due to shoot or foliar damage. In addition, in some cases defoliation also reduced fungal biomass in fine roots and decreased ECM sexual reproduction by reducing the number of sporocarps produced.

Defoliation induced a similar response pattern in the host and in ECM fungi with a stronger response to increasing severity of treatment (e.g. degree of removed foliage or repeated years of defoliation). This was also confirmed when relating the effects of host and ECM fungal symbionts to defoliation using present and previously published data. The present results suggest that belowground adaptation of boreal trees to the changing environment is mediated by changes in fungal community or biomass partitioning. The lack of response in the intensity of ECM colonisation further emphasises the importance of the symbiosis to boreal trees.

see all

Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 978-951-42-8826-5
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-8825-8
Issue: 510
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2008. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.