Mycoheterotrophic plants typically form associations with a narrow range of mycorrhizal fungi. Consequently, mycorrhizal specialization is often considered to be an important step in mycoheterotrophic evolution. However, it remains unclear whether such specialization is likely to occur in plants of the genus Pyrola, which are generally associated with fungi in multiple ectomycorrhizal families. Here, we investigated the mycorrhizal communities of a nearly fully mycoheterotrophic Pyrola species (Pyrola subaphylla), a closely related partially mycoheterotrophic Pyrola species (Pyrola japonica), and a co-occurring autotrophic ectomycorrhizal tree, Quercus crispula, which is their potential carbon source, in a cool-temperate Japanese forest. High-throughput DNA sequencing revealed that numerous common ectomycorrhizal OTUs interact with the two Pyrola species and Q. crispula, thereby providing an opportunity to exploit a certain amount of carbon from common mycorrhizal networks. In addition, not only P. japonica but also P. subaphylla exhibited exceptionally high alpha mycobiont diversity, with 52 ectomycorrhizal OTUs belonging to 12 families being identified as P. subaphylla mycobionts and 69 ectomycorrhizal OTUs in 18 families being detected as P. japonica mycobionts. Nonetheless, the beta mycobiont diversity of P. subaphylla and P. japonica individuals was significantly lower than that of Q. crispula. Moreover, the beta mycobiont diversity of P. subaphylla was found to be significantly lower than that of P. japonica. Therefore, despite their seemingly broad mycorrhizal interactions, the two Pyrola species (particularly P. subaphylla) showed consistent fungal associations, suggesting that mycorrhizal specialization may have developed during the course of mycoheterotrophic evolution within the genus Pyrola.
- Beta diversity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Plant Science