Influence of Hyphal Inoculum potential on the Competitive Success of Fungi Colonizing Wood

Zewei Song, Andrew Vail, Michael J Sadowsky, Jonathan S Schilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The relative amounts of hyphal inoculum in forest soils may determine the capacity for fungi to compete with and replace early colonizers of wood in ground contact. Our aim in this study was to test the flexibility of priority effects (colonization timing) by varying the timing of inoculum introduction (i.e., precolonization) and amount of inoculum (i.e., inoculum potential). We controlled these variables in soil-block microcosms using fungi with known competitive outcomes in similar conditions, tracking isolate-specific fungal biomass, and residue physiochemistry over time. In the precolonization trial (experiment I), a brown rot fungus Gloeophyllum trabeum was given 1, 3, or 5 weeks to precolonize wood blocks (oak, birch, pine, and spruce) prior the introduction of a white rot fungus, Irpex lacteus, a more aggressive colonizer in this set-up. In the inoculum potential trial (experiment II), the fungi were inoculated simultaneously, but with eightfold higher brown rot inoculum than that of experiment I. As expected, longer precolonization duration increased the chance for the less-competitive brown rot fungus to outcompete its white rot opponent. Higher brown rot fungal inoculum outside of the wood matrix also resulted in competitive success for the brown rot isolate in most cases. These temporal shifts in fungal dominance were detectable in a ‘community snapshot’ as isolate-specific quantitative PCR, but also as functionally-relevant consequences of wood rot type, including carbohydrate depolymerization and pH. These results from a controlled system reinforce fungal-fungal interaction and suggest that relative inoculum availability beyond the wood matrix (i.e., soils) might regulate the duration of priority effects and shift the functional trajectory of wood decomposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-767
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Community assembly
  • Competition
  • Fungi
  • Priority effects
  • Wood decomposition

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