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Study to expand knowledge of ectomycorrhizal fungi in Scotland

Ectomycorrhizal fungi on roots (c) James Hutton Institute
“Very little is known about the composition and resilience of ECM fungi in symbiosis with native hosts, except for Scots pine and mountain shrubs, and also the factors that influence their distributions”

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen are exploring the relationship between ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi and native tree species in Scotland. The study will also determine which climatic and environmental factors influence their distribution.

ECM fungi form beneficial associations with the roots of many plant species, in particular trees: the fungi take up nutrients from the soil and pass on some of these to the host plants in return for sugars. The fungi are therefore essential components of many terrestrial ecosystems.

The data recorded from the study will contribute to the limited information currently available on the subject in Scotland. Existing records show that there are approximately 900 ECM species recorded in Scotland. This is only about one-half of the species recorded in Scandinavia.

Supported by the Macaulay Development Trust, PhD researcher Peggy Ehrlich (University of Aberdeen/James Hutton Institute) aims to develop such records. Peggy explains: “Scottish studies on ECM fungi have so far focused on those associated with Scots pine and on mountain shrubs.

“Very little is known about the composition and resilience of ECM fungi in symbiosis with native hosts (except for Scots pine and mountain shrubs) and also the factors that influence their distributions.”

A combination of traditional morphological approaches as well as modern molecular analyses will be used to identify the fungi. The project will provide valuable information for forest management and woodland expansion policies.

A comparison between Scottish and Scandinavian fungal community data will also give insights into how trees and their associated ECM communities spread and developed after glaciation.

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Printed from /news/study-expand-knowledge-ectomycorrhizal-fungi-scotland on 18/04/24 03:00:39 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.