Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities in alpine relict forests of Pinus pumila on Mt. Norikura, Japan

Takahiko Koizumi*, Masahira Hattori, Kazuhide Nara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbioses are indispensable for the establishment of host trees, yet available information of ECM symbiosis in alpine forests is scarce. Pinus pumila is a typical ice age relict tree species in Japan and often forms monodominant dwarf vegetation above the tree line in mountains. We studied ECM fungi colonizing P. pumila on Mt. Norikura, Japan, with reference to host developmental stages, i.e., from current-year seedlings to mature trees. ECM fungal species were identified based on rDNA ITS sequences. Ninety-two ECM fungal species were confirmed from a total of 2480 root tips examined. Species in /suillus-rhizopogon and /wilcoxina were dominant in seedling roots. ECM fungal diversity increased with host development, due to the addition of species-rich fungal lineages (/cenococcum, /cortinarius, and /russula-lactarius) in late-successional stages. Such successional pattern of ECM fungi is similar to those in temperate pine systems, suggesting the predominant role of /suillus-rhizopogon in seedling establishment, even in relict alpine habitats fragmented and isolated for a geological time period. Most of the ECM fungi detected were also recorded in Europe or North America, indicating their potential Holarctic distribution and the possibility of their comigration with P. pumila through land bridges during ice ages. In addition, we found significant effects of soil properties on ECM fungal communities, which explained 34.1% of the total variation of the fungal communities. While alpine vegetation is regarded as vulnerable to the ongoing global warming, ECM fungal communities associated with P. pumila could be altered by the edaphic change induced by the warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpine forest
  • Biogeography
  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Ice age relict
  • Seedling establishment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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