Ectomycorrhizal diversity and community structure in stands of Quercus oleoides in the seasonally dry tropical forests of Costa Rica

Nikhilesh S. Desai, Andrew W. Wilson, Jennifer S. Powers, Gregory M. Mueller, Louise M. Egerton-Warburton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Most conservation efforts in seasonally dry tropical forests have overlooked less obvious targets for conservation, such as mycorrhizal fungi, that are critical to plant growth and ecosystem structure. We documented the diversity of ectomycorrhizal (EMF) and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AMF) fungal communities in Quercus oleoides (Fagaceae) in Guanacaste province, Costa Rica. Soil cores and sporocarps were collected from regenerating Q. oleoides plots differing in stand age (early vs late regeneration) during the wet season. Sequencing of the nuclear ribosomal ITS region in EMF root tips and sporocarps identified 37 taxa in the Basidiomycota; EMF Ascomycota were uncommon. The EMF community was dominated by one species (Thelephora sp. 1; 70% of soil cores), more than half of all EMF species were found only once in an individual soil core, and there were few conspecific taxa. Most EMF taxa were also restricted to either Early or Late plots. Levels of EMF species richness and diversity, and AMF root colonization were similar between plots. Our results highlight the need for comprehensive spatiotemporal samplings of EMF communities in Q. oleoides to identify and prioritize rare EMF for conservation, and document their genetic and functional diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125007
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants from the Northwestern University Plant Biology and Conservation Program and the Harris Family Foundation. Additional resources were provided by: Chicago Botanic Garden, Field Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG), Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion (SINAC), Costa Rica Ministry of Agriculture, and Universidad de Costa Rica. This project was carried out in accordance with the Costa Rica no. 7788 Biodiversity Act and permit no. R-005-2011 issued by the National Commission for Biodiversity Management (CONAGEBIO).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Quercus oleoides
  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • diversity
  • ectomycorrhizal fungi


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