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Plant Ecology Laboratory

Research in our lab focuses on diversity patterns in biological communities, and on the interactions underlying these patterns. The main questions we address are: how do communities vary along natural gradients and gradients of human impact? What are the major assembly rules shaping communities; and are they attributable to biotic interactions or environmental heterogeneity? What are the roles of different biotic interactions - including competition, facilitation, herbivory and symbiosis - in structuring communities? Read more

News archive - February

North-European Forest Mycologists meeting in Uppsala

February 2018

On 8-9th of February, the NEFOM (North-European Forest Mycologists) network
held an annual conference-style meeting. We were represented at the meeting with talks by Maarja Öpik (AM-fungi in temperate forests) and Tanel Vahter (AM fungi following a forest – a restoration perspective) along with Estonian colleagues Leho Tedersoo and Urmas Kõljalg. During the meeting, an overview on the current knowledge of forest mycology and the problems related to intensive management was given. Maarja and Tanel also brought in a less-known, arbuscular mycorrhizal perspective of temperate forests.

Tanel also attended a course held after the meeting where newest methods and knowledge about sample preparation for high throughput sequencing were discussed in conjunction with practical exercises. During the week, various sequencing platforms were introduced along with their pros and cons.

We thank the meeting and course organisers for a lovely time in Uppsala!

Effects of land use on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in Estonia

February 2018

While the species richness of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi may not differ among natural, semi-natural and degraded habitat types, the fungal community shifts with land use change. A recent study by PhD student Siim-Kaarel Sepp and co-authors compared AM fungal communities in soil and roots of a single host plant species in six different habitat types in Estonia, ranging from boreonemoral forest to calcareous grasslands (alvars). They show that both land use intensification (e.g. clearcutting) and abandonment (e.g. overgrowing) cause shifts in AM fungal communities. Furthermore, the AM fungal communities in roots of the single host plant species were more similar among different habitats than in soil samples, suggesting that the host plant may select a suitable fungal partner community from the available selection of AM fungi.

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