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Mycorrhiza. 2005 Jul;15(5):365-72. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

Contrasting root associated fungi of three common oak-woodland plant species based on molecular identification: host specificity or non-specific amplification?

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


An increasingly popular approach used to identify arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in planta is to amplify a portion of AM fungal small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU-rDNA) from whole root DNA extractions using the primer pair AM1-NS31, followed by cloning and sequencing. We used this approach to study the AM fungal community composition of three common oak-woodland plant species: a grass (Cynosurus echinatus), blue oak (Quercus douglasii), and a forb (Torilis arvensis). Significant diversity of AM fungi were found in the roots of C. echinatus, which is consistent with previous studies demonstrating a high degree of AM fungal diversity from the roots of various hosts. In contrast, clones from Q. douglasii and T. arvensis were primarily from non-AM fungi of diverse origins within the Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. This work demonstrates that caution must be taken when using this molecular approach to determine in planta AM fungal diversity if non-sequence based methods such as terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, or temperature gradient gel electrophoresis are used.

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