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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2012 Jan;79(1):109-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01201.x.

Competition between two wood-degrading fungi with distinct influences on residues.

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  • 1Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.


Many wood-degrading fungi colonize specific types of forest trees, but often lack wood specificity in pure culture. This suggests that wood type affects competition among fungi and indirectly influences the soil residues generated. While assessing wood residues is an established science, linking this information to dominant fungal colonizers has proven to be difficult. In the studies presented here, we used isolate-specific quantitative PCR to quantify competitive success between two distinct fungi, Gloeophyllum trabeum and Irpex lacteus, brown and white rot fungi, respectively, colonizing three wood types (birch, pine, oak). Ergosterol (fungal biomass), fungal species-specific DNA copy numbers, mass loss, pH, carbon fractions, and alkali solubility were determined 3 and 8 weeks postinoculation from replicate wood sections. Quantitative PCR analyses indicated that I. lacteus consistently outcompeted G. trabeum, by several orders of magnitude, on all wood types. Consequently, wood residues exhibited distinct characteristics of white rot. Our results show that competitive interactions between fungal species can influence colonization success, and that this can have significant consequences on the outcomes of wood decomposition.

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