Interaction of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) progenies with the soil fungal microbiome

Duration of the project: 2014 - 2017

Contact: Silke Ammerschubert, Email: sammers(at)

Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) is a keystone species in Central European forests and has a wide ecological range. Beech roots form symbioses with different ectomycorrhizal fungi, but we have little knowledge on the intraspecific variation of mycorrhizal fungi and that of other root-associated microbial communities. To investigate the field performance, nitrogen acquisition and microbial colonization of different beech progenies within and outside their original growth area, a Beech Transplantation Experiment (BTE) was installed in the Exploratories ( The Exploratories host 50 experimental plots in three regions across a geographic gradient in Germany. The BTE is a collaboration of 9 different working groups from 5 Universities.

This sub-project investigates the diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities associated with the different beech progenies. Our research questions:

  • Are there intraspecific differences in the field performance of the progenies from beech populations of the three Exploratories?

  • Do beech progenies from different populations affect different microbial communities?

  • Do microbe and environment x beech interactions in the mycorrhizosphere influence beech N supply via changes in the root transcriptome?

To test these hypotheses, progenies from each of the three Exploratories were out-planted in each Exploratory. To study N acquisition, stable isotope labelling was conducted. The fungal communities are investigated by metagenomic methods (MiSeq).

Schröter K (2015) Functional diversity of mycorrhiza in relation to land-use changes and ecosystem functionsGeorg-August-Universität Göttingen, 156 pages

Ammerschubert S, Schröter K, Polle A (2016) Field performance and nitrogen acquisition of
beech (Fagus sylvatica) progenies across a geographic gradient. Hainichtagung 2016, Bad Langensalza, Germany (27-29 Apr 2016)

Ammerschubert S, Nguyen DQ, Polle A (2015) Diversity of ectomyorrhizal fungi in relation to land-use changes and ecosystem functions. 12th Assembly of Biodiversity Exploratories. Wernigerode, Germany (17-20 Feb 2015)

Nguyen DQ, Ammerschubert S, Schröter K, Polle A (2016) Diversity of ectomyorrhizal fungi in relation to land-use changes and ecosystem functions. 13th Assembly of Biodiversity Exploratories. Wernigerode, Germany (16-19 Feb 2015)

Publications from earlier phases of the project
Foesel BU, Nägele V, Naether A, Wüst PK, Weinert J, Bonkowski M, Lohaus G, Polle A, Alt F, Oelmann Y, Fischer M, Friedrich MW, Overmann J (2014) Determinants of Acidobacteria activity inferred from the relative abundances of 16S rRNA transcripts in German grassland and forest soils. Environmental Microbiology 16:  658-675, doi:10.1111/1462-2920.12162

Lang C, Finkeldey R, Polle A (2013) Spatial patterns of ectomycorrhizal assemblages in a monospecific forest in relation to host tree genotype. Frontiers in Plant Science 4:103, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00103

Pena R, Tejedor J, Zeller B, Dannenmann M, Polle A (2013) Interspecific temporal and spatial differences for the acquisition of litter-derived nitrogen of ectomycorrhizal fungal assemblages. New Phytologist 199: 520?528, doi: 10.1111/nph.12272

Naether A, Foesel B, Naegele V, Wüst P, Weinert J, Bonkowski M, Alt F, Oelmann Y, Polle A, Lohaus G, Gockel S, Hemp A, Kalko E, Linsenmair EK, Pfeiffer S, Renner S, Schöning I, Weisser W, Wells K, Fischer M, Overmann J, Friedrich M (2012) Environmental factors affect acidobacterial communities below the subgroup level in grassland and forest soils. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78(20): 7398-406, doi: 10.1128/AEM.01325-12

Birkhofer K, Schöning I, Alt F, Herold N, Klarner B, Maraun M, Marhan S, Oelmann Y, Wubet T, Yurkov A, Begerow D, Berner D, Bonkowski M, Buscot F, Chatzinotas A, Daniel R, Diekötter T, Drake HL, Ehnes RB, Erdmann G, Faßhauer F, Friedrich M, Fischer C, Focks A, Foesel B, Friedl T, Glaser K, Groh J, Gutknecht J, Hallmann C, Hodac L, Horn MM, Kandeler E, Kolb S, Koller R, Lang C, Lohaus G, Pollierer MM, Meyer A, Munch JC, Nacke H, Näther A, Overmann J, Polle A, Scheu S, Schloter M, Schulze ED, Schulze W, Weinert J, Weisser W, Wolters V, Wurst S, Schrumpf M (2012) General relationships between abiotic soil properties and soil biota across spatial scales and different land-use types. PLOS one 7: e43292, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043292

Lang C, Polle A (2011) Ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity, tree diversity and root nutrient relations in a mixed Central European forest. Tree Physiology 31(5): 531-538, doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpr042

Lang C, Dolynska A, Finkeldey R, Polle A (2010) Are beech roots territorial? Forest Ecology and Management 260(7): 1212-1217, doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2010.07.014

The work has been funded by the DFG Priority Program 1374 "Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories" (PO 362/18-2).