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Can the extent of degradation of soil fungal mycelium during soil incubation be used to estimate ectomycorrhizal biomass in soil?

  • Erland Bååth
  • Lars Ola Nilsson
  • Hans Göransson
  • Håkan Wallander
Publishing year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 2105-2109
Publication/Series: Soil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume: 36
Issue: 12
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The extent of degradation of the fungal biomass in forest soil during laboratory incubation was investigated as a measure of ectomycorrhizal (EM) biomass. The method simulates the disappearance of fungal mycelium after root trenching, where the EM fungi, deprived of its energy source (the tree), will start to die off. Incubating a forest humus soil at 25 C resulted in a decrease in the relative proportion (mol%) of the phospholipid fatty acid 18:2omega6,9 (a fungal marker molecule) within 3-6 months, indicating that fungal biomass was disappearing. Incubation at 5 degreesC resulted in essentially no change in the amount of 18:2omega6,9. The measurement of ergosterol, another fungal marker molecule, gave similar results. Incubation of different forest soils (pine, spruce and spruce/oak), and assuming that the disappearance of fungal biomass during this period of time was entirely due to EM fungi, resulted in an estimation of EM biomass of between 47 and 84% of the total fungal biomass in these soils. The humus layer had more EM biomass than deeper mineral layers.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Microbial Ecology
  • ISSN: 0038-0717
Erland Bååth
E-mail: erland [dot] baath [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus


+46 46 222 42 64


Sölvegatan 37, Lund