Functional diversity of mycorrhiza in relation to land-use changes and ecosystem functions


Previous project phase (2014-2017)

Scientific investigators:

Prof. Dr. Andrea Polle

Silke Ammerschubert

(Uni Göttingen)

The project ECTOMYC addresses species richness and ecosystem functions of ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) in conjunction with their associated host. The main goal is to establish links between the intraspecific diversity of beech with the interspecific diversity of EMF and to unravel functional links between the microbial community composition and nutrient transfer between soil and plants. The specific questions we will address are:

  • Are there intraspecific differences in the field performance of the progenies from beech populations of the three Exploratories?
  • Do beech progenies from different populations attract different microbial communities?
  • Do microbe and environment x beech interactions in the mycorrhizosphere influence beech N supply via changes in the root transcriptome?


To investigate these questions the project ECTOMYC has established a beech transplantation experiment of 12 beech progenies planted in each of 9 forest experimental plots per Exploratory. We plan to determine the performance and beech N uptake by 15N labeling. The root and leaf-associated microbiomes will be analyzed by coordinated metagenome analyses within the Exploratories. Selected root transcriptomes will be determined and identified candidate genes for ecological traits will be validated in the root samples from 150 forest experimental plots.


Previous project phase (2011-2014)

Scientific investigators:

Prof. Dr. Andrea Polle

Dr. Rodica Pena

(University Goettingen)


Model validation

Ecophysiological/mechanistic links between forest utilization and diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi


Research Guiding Questions

1. Do differences in stand structure of managed and unmanaged forests influence belowground carbon allocation, thereby, affecting EMF diversity?

2. Is the taxonomic diversity of soil fungi (= potentially interacting fungi) related to the taxonomic diversity of EMF (= realized interactions)?

3. Does an increased production of root litter/material exchange as a consequence of forest utilization create new niches that foster increased EMF species richness

4. Do beech family structures affect the recruiting behaviour for EMF?



1. Root carbohydrate concentrations in relation to stand structure in all 150 forest EPs (Collaborations with WG Ammer and Kleinn)

2. Analysis of fungal species richness in roots by high-throughput sequencing (Collaborations with workgroups Buscot and Daniel)

3. Experimental disturbance (root detachment) and analysis of EMF in relation soil and litter nutrient composition (NO3-, NH4+, amino acids, carbohydrate)

4. Outplanting of beeches of defined family structures (Continue the collaboration with workgroup Finkeldey)


Previous project phase (2008-2011)


Scientific investigators

Prof. Dr. Andrea Polle

(University Göttingen)

1. EM diversity is not related to management intensity but to the intraspecific genetic structure of the host tree species and the richness of EM-building species present in the soil.

2. Host root production and their nutrient efficiency are correlated with abundance and diversity of ectomycorrhiza.

3. EM community structures affect soil properties.