Patterns of diversity, endemism and specialization in the root symbiont communities of alder species on the island of Corsica

Adrien C. Pozzi, Mélanie Roy, Mélissande Nagati, Guillaume Schwob, Sophie Manzi, Monique Gardes, Pierre Arthur Moreau, Maria P. Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We investigated whether the diversity, endemicity and specificity of alder symbionts could be changed by isolation in a Mediterranean glacial refugium. We studied both ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi and nitrogen-fixing actinobacteria associated with alders, and compared their communities in Corsica and on the European continent. Nodules and root tips were sampled on the three alder species present in Corsica and continental France and Italy. Phylogenies based on internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and a multilocus sequence analysis approach were used to characterize fungal and Frankia species, respectively. Patterns of diversity, endemism and specialization were compared between hosts and regions for each symbiont community. In Corsica, communities were not generally richer than on the mainland. The species richness per site depended mainly on host identity: Alnus glutinosa and Alnus cordata hosted richer Frankia and EM communities, respectively. Half of the Frankia species were endemic to Corsica against only 4% of EM species. Corsica is not a hotspot of diversity for all alder symbionts but sustains an increased frequency of poor-dispersers such as hypogeous fungi. Generalist EM fungi and host-dependent profusely sporulating (Sp+) Frankia were abundantly associated with Corsican A. cordata, a pattern related to a more thermophilic and xerophylic climate and to the co-occurrence with other host trees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-349
Number of pages14
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust


  • Alnus (alders)
  • Corsica
  • Frankia
  • community ecology
  • diversity
  • ectomycorrhiza (EM)
  • endemism
  • specialization


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