Tropical Microbial Communities

ECTOMYCORRHIZAL SYMBIOSIS IN LOWLAND TROPICAL FORESTS

Global patterns of fungal biodiversity and their drivers are currently poorly understood.  One reason for this is the relatively small amount of research that has been done in southern hemisphere and tropical forests.  Ectomycorrhizal fungi are thought to be important primarily in temperate, nitrogen-limited ecosystems.  While most neotropical trees associate with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, the dominant tree family in southeast Asia, the Dipterocarpaceae, is ectomycorrhizal.  Dipterocarp seedlings do not grow successfully without ectomycorrhizal associations, however almost nothing is known about the ectomycorrhizal assemblages of mixed-dipterocarp forests.  These forests are among the most diverse in the world, however they are under tremendous pressure from commercial logging and there is a clear need to understand the fungal dimension of diversity at risk and their potential importance in forest regeneration.

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