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First Report of Ectomycorrhizal Fungus, Laccaria ochropurpurea, Associated with Castanea dentata (American Chestnut) Roots in a Mixed-Species Plantation

M. V. Ritzi, S. D. Russell, M. C. Aime, and G. G. McNickle

July 2019


American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is critically endangered by chestnut blight caused by Cryphonectria parasitica. Beneficial interactions with mutualistic ectomycorrhizae sometimes confer resistance to pathogens; however, little is known about the mycorrhizal partners of American chestnut. Basidiocarps of Laccaria ochropurpurea were observed in a 10-year-old American chestnut plantation. The identity of the species was confirmed utilizing the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer. In spring 2018, root fragments were excised from beneath three American chestnut trees in three separate plots where basidiocarps were observed. Root tips with evidence of mycorrhizal fungal colonization were pooled, extracted, and sequenced to confirm both the plant host and mycorrhizal associates. To our knowledge, this is the first direct confirmation of American chestnut roots associated with L. ochropurpurea. We suggest further studies to investigate whether this association is common, whether it confers any disease resistance, and if this mutualistic association could be employed in restoration efforts of the American chestnut.


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