Biogeography of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with alders (Alnus spp.) in relation to biotic and abiotic variables at the global scale

Sergei Põlme, Mohammad Bahram, Takashi Yamanaka, Kazuhide Nara, Yu Cheng Dai, Tine Grebenc, Hojka Kraigher, Mika Toivonen, Pi Han Wang, Yosuke Matsuda, Triin Naadel, Peter G. Kennedy, Urmas Kõljalg, Leho Tedersoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Much of the macroecological information about microorganisms is confounded by the lack of standardized methodology, paucity of metadata and sampling effect of a particular substrate or interacting host taxa. This study aims to disentangle the relative effects of biological, geographical and edaphic variables on the distribution of Alnus-associated ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi at the global scale by using comparable sampling and analysis methods. Ribosomal DNA sequence analysis revealed 146 taxa of ECM fungi from 22 Alnus species across 96 sites worldwide. Use of spatial and phylogenetic eigenvectors along with environmental variables in model selection indicated that phylogenetic relations among host plants and geographical links explained 43 and 10%, respectively, in ECM fungal community composition, whereas soil calcium concentration positively influenced taxonomic richness. Intrageneric phylogenetic relations among host plants and regional processes largely account for the global biogeographic distribution of Alnus-associated ECM fungi. The biogeography of ECM fungi is consistent with ancient host migration patterns from Eurasia to North America and from southern Europe to northern Europe after the last glacial maximum, indicating codispersal of hosts and their mycobionts. See also the Commentary by Horton et al.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1249
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Alder (Alnus)
  • Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi
  • Host specificity
  • Latitudinal gradient of diversity
  • Soil calcium concentration
  • Species richness

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