Ectomycorrhizal fungi in Mexican Alnus forests support the host co-migration hypothesis and continental-scale patterns in phylogeography

Peter G. Kennedy, Roberto Garibay-Orijel, Logan M. Higgins, Rodolfo Angeles-Arguiz

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69 Scopus citations


To examine the geographic patterns in Alnus-associated ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal assemblages and determine how they may relate to host plant biogeography, we studied ECM assemblages associated with two Alnus species (Alnus acuminata and Alnus jorullensis) in montane Mexico and compared them with Alnus-associated ECM assemblages located elsewhere in the Americas. ECM root samples were collected from four sites in Mexico (two per host species), identified with ITS and LSU rRNA gene sequences, and assessed using both taxon- (richness, diversity, evenness indices) and sequence divergence-based (UniFrac clustering and significance) analyses. Only 23 ECM taxa were encountered. Clavulina, an ECM lineage never before reported with Alnus, contained the dominant taxon overall. ECM assemblage structure varied between hosts, but UniFrac significance tests indicated that both associated with similar ECM lineage diversity. There was a strikingly high sequence similarity among a diverse array of the ECM taxa in Mexico and those in Alnus forests in Argentina, the United States, and Europe. The Mexican and United States assemblages had greater overlap than those present in Argentina, supporting the host-ECM fungi co-migration hypothesis from a common north temperate origin. Our results indicate that Alnus-associated ECM assemblages have clear patterns in richness and composition across a wide range of geographic locations. Additional data from boreal western North America as well as the eastern United States and Canada will be particularly informative in further understanding the co-biogeographic patterns of Alnus and ECM fungi in the Americas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-568
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors thank A. Kong for assistance in identifying the location of Malinche site 2, G. Williams-Linera and C. Alvarez for assistance in locating Naolinco site 1, L. Mora for assistance with soil analyses, and P-A. Moreau and P. B. Matheny for access to data presented in Fig. 3 as well as discussions about Alnus-associated taxa in the genus Inocybe. A. Amend, G. Bonilla, R. Molina, M. Palomino, K. Peay, F. Reverchon, E. Vellinga, M. Weber, and two reviewers provided many constructive comments on previous versions of this manuscript. Funding was provided by the Lewis & Clark College Student Academic Affairs Board (L.M. Higgins), a Lewis & Clark College Rogers Summer Research fellowship (L.M. Higgins and P.G. Kennedy), UNAM-PAPIIT IN218210 (R. Garibay-Orijel), a CIES Fulbright-Garcia Robles award (P.G. Kennedy), and National Science Foundation grant DEB-1020735 (P.G. Kennedy).


  • Alnus
  • Americas
  • Biogeography
  • Ectomycorrhiza
  • Fungi
  • ITS
  • LSU
  • Mexico


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