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New Phytol. 2015 May;206(3):1135-44. doi: 10.1111/nph.13287. Epub 2015 Jan 26.

Ectomycorrhizal fungal maladaptation and growth reductions associated with assisted migration of Douglas-fir.

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BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, PO Box 9536 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC, V8W 9C4, Canada.


Climatic adaptations are the foundation of conifer genecology, but populations also display variation in traits for nitrogen (N) utilization, along with some heritable specificity for ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF). We examined soil and EMF influences on assisted migration of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) by comparing two contrasting maritime populations planted up to 400 km northward in southwestern British Columbia. Soil N availability and host N status (via δ(15) N) were assessed across 12 maritime test sites, whereas EMF on local and introduced hosts were quantified by morphotyping with molecular analysis. Climatic transfer effects were only significant with soil N concentrations of test sites as a covariate, and illustrated how height growth was compromised for populations originating from relatively dry or cool maritime environments. We also found evidence for EMF maladaptation, where height declined by up to 15% with the extent of dissimilarity in EMF communities of southern populations relative to local hosts. The results demonstrate how geographic structure in belowground environments can contribute to conifer genecology. Differences in the inherent growth potential of conifers may be partly related to nutritional adaptations arising under native soil fertility, and optimization of this growth potential likely requires close affiliation with local EMF communities.


assisted migration; coevolution; ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF); genecology; maladaptation; soil nitrogen; δ15N

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