Root-associated fungi, including ectomycorrhizal and root-endophytic fungi, are among the most diverse and important belowground plant symbionts in dipterocarp rainforests. Our study aimed to reveal the biodiversity, host association, and community structure of ectomycorrhizal Basidiomycota and root-associated Ascomycota (including root-endophytic Ascomycota) in a lowland dipterocarp rainforest in Southeast Asia. The host plant chloroplast ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase large subunit ( rbcL) region and fungal internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region were sequenced using tag-encoded, massively parallel 454 pyrosequencing to identify host plant and root-associated fungal taxa in root samples. In total, 1245 ascomycetous and 127 putative ectomycorrhizal basidiomycetous taxa were detected from 442 root samples. The putative ectomycorrhizal Basidiomycota were likely to be associated with closely related dipterocarp taxa to greater or lesser extents, whereas host association patterns of the root-associated Ascomycota were much less distinct. The community structure of the putative ectomycorrhizal Basidiomycota was possibly more influenced by host genetic distances than was that of the root-associated Ascomycota. This study also indicated that in dipterocarp rainforests, root-associated Ascomycota were characterized by high biodiversity and indistinct host association patterns, whereas ectomycorrhizal Basidiomycota showed less biodiversity and a strong host phylogenetic preference for dipterocarp trees. Our findings lead to the working hypothesis that root-associated Ascomycota, which might be mainly represented by root-endophytic fungi, have biodiversity hotspots in the tropics, whereas biodiversity of ectomycorrhizal Basidiomycota increases with host genetic diversity.
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