Scottish mycorrhizae study "will inform tree planting and management"

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen are investigating the relationship between ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi and native tree species in Scotland, and the climatic and environmental factors that affect their distribution.

Image: Raúl A (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Image: Raúl A (CC BY-ND 2.0)

ECM fungi form beneficial associations with the roots of many plant species, in particular trees, taking up nutrients from the soil and passing some of these on to the host plants in return for sugars.

Around 900 ECM species have been recorded in Scotland - only about half the number recorded in Scandinavia.

Supported by the Macaulay Development Trust, PhD researcher Peggy Ehrlich said: "Scottish studies on ECM fungi have so far focused on those associated with Scots pine and on mountain shrubs. Very little is known about the composition and resilience of ECM fungi in symbiosis with other native hosts, or the factors that influence their distributions."

A combination of traditional morphological approaches as well as modern molecular analyses will be used to identify the fungi, providing what JHI says will be valuable information for forest management and woodland expansion policies.

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