Root ectomycorrhizal status of oak trees symptomatic and asymptomatic for acute oak decline in southern Britain

Barsoum, N.; A'Hara, Stuart W.; Cottrell, Joan E.; Forster, Jack; San Jose Garcia, Mateo; Schonrogge, Karsten ORCID:; Shaw, Liz. 2021 Root ectomycorrhizal status of oak trees symptomatic and asymptomatic for acute oak decline in southern Britain. Forest Ecology and Management, 482, 118800. 10, pp.

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Acute Oak Decline (AOD) is a decline-disease that has distinctive symptoms and poses a serious threat to oak. Our understanding of the causal factors of AOD remains poor but it is likely that multiple biotic and abiotic factors contribute to a deterioration in oak condition. There is evidence that indications of above-ground tree health status are frequently reflected below-ground in roots and associated ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal communities. However, no study has yet explored these potential relationships specifically in AOD affected trees. In this study, we compare the composition and range of functional exploration types of ECM communities associated with AOD symptomatic oak trees and with AOD asymptomatic trees in three oak-dominated woodlands in southern England. We additionally assess the abundance of fine root tips in surface soils beneath AOD symptomatic and asymptomatic trees and consider soil physico-chemical effects on ECM communities. The frequency of fine root tips was found to be significantly higher on asymptomatic compared with symptomatic trees in two of the three woodlands studied and long-distance ECM exploration types had a weak positive association with AOD asymptomatic trees. ECM diversity and composition were, however, unaffected by tree symptom status and were not related to the frequency of fine root tips. ECM diversity and compositional (but not exploration type) differences were evident only between the different woodlands and this was related to a small number of soil chemistry variables. This study revealed a relationship between the above-ground symptoms of AOD (i.e. stem lesions and Agrilus biguttatus exit holes) and the frequency of live root tips, providing a potential additional diagnostic tool of trees in decline and highlighting the importance of considering belowground rhizosphere microbiome communities.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0378-1127
Additional Keywords: acute oak decline, ectomycorrhizal fungi, Quercus, exploration types, fine roots
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 27 Jan 2021 17:01 +0 (UTC)

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