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Root colonisation by arbuscular mycorrhizal, fine endophytic and dark septate fungi across a pH gradient in acid beech forests

  • Jacqueline Postma
  • Pål Axel Olsson
  • Ursula Falkengren-Grerup
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 400-408
Publication/Series: Soil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume: 39
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

Colonisation by root endophytes can be beneficial to plants growing on acid, nutrient-poor soils. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi can supply herbs with nutrients and may give protection against aluminium toxicity. Two other root colonising fungi, fine endophytes (FE) and dark septate fungi (DSE), are less well known but are potentially of benefit to their host plant. AM fungi are the most prevalent symbionts in herbs at neutral to acidic soil pH. At extremely low pH, fungal growth can be limited and AM colonisation is usually rare. Fine. and dark septate endophytes, on the other hand, have been observed more often under these conditions. In order to relate endophyte colonisation to a gradient in soil pH, we investigated root colonisation by AM, FE and DSE in Maianthemum bifolium, Galium odoratum, Mercurialis perennis and Stellaria nemorum, from a range of acidic beech forests. With decreasing pH, colonisation by AM decreased, whereas the other two endophytes increased. AM and FE colonisation were inversely correlated in Maianthemum bifolium. We compared changes in root colonisation with those in chemical composition of soil and leaf samples and found a positive correlation between leaf magnesium concentrations and the presence of DSE in Galium odoratum. Aluminium concentration in Maianthemum bifolium tended to be lower when FE colonisation was high, suggesting a possible role for the fungi in plant protection against Al. We suggest that FE and DSE may replace AM fungi in herbaceous vegetation at extremely low pH, counteracting some of the negative effects of high soil acidity on plants.


  • Ecology
  • Fine endophytes
  • Dark septate endophytes
  • Acid soil
  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Root colonisation
  • pH gradient
  • Linear mixed-effects model
  • Forest ground vegetation


  • Genomics, Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • ISSN: 0038-0717
Pål Axel Olsson
E-mail: pal_axel [dot] olsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 42 47



Research group

Plant Biology



Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

Theodor Kindeberg

PhD students, assistant supervisor