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New Phytol. 2005 Jan;165(1):295-304.

Pine microsatellite markers allow roots and ectomycorrhizas to be linked to individual trees.

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The Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK.


Linking roots and ectomycorrhizas (EcM) to individual host trees in the field is required to test whether individual trees support different ectomycorrhizal communities. Here we describe a method that identifies the source of EcM roots by PCR of polymorphic pine nuclear microsatellite loci using fluorescently labelled primers and high-throughput fragment analysis. ITS-PCR can also be performed on the same EcM DNA extract for fungal identification. The method was tested on five neighbouring Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris var scotica) trees in native woodland. Successful host tree identification from DNA extracts of EcM root tips was achieved for 93% of all root fragments recovered from soil cores. It was estimated that each individual mature pine sampled was colonised by between 15 and 19 EcM fungi. The most abundant fungal species were found on all five trees, and within the constraints of the sampling scheme, no differences between trees in EcM fungal community structure or composition were detected.

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