Molecular fungal community and its decomposition activity in sapwood and heartwood of 13 temperate European tree species
Deadwood is an important structural component in forest ecosystems and plays a significant role in global carbon and nutrient cycling. Relatively little is known about the formation and decomposition of CWD by microbial communities in situ and about the factors controlling the associated processes. In this study, we intensively analyzed the molecular fungal community composition and species richness in relation to extracellular enzyme activity and differences in decomposing sapwood and heartwood of 13 temperate tree species (four coniferous and nine deciduous species, log diameter 30–40 cm and 4 m long) in an artificial experiment involving placing the logs on the forest soil for six years. We observed strong differences in the molecular fungal community composition and richness among the 13 tree species, and specifically between deciduous and coniferous wood, but unexpectedly no difference was found between sapwood and heartwood. Fungal species richness correlated positively with wood extractives and negatively with fungal biomass. A distinct fungal community secreting lignocellulolytic key enzymes seemed to dominate the decomposition of the logs in this specific phase. In particular, the relative sequence abundance of basidiomycetous species of the Meruliaceae (e.g. Bjerkandera adusta) correlated with ligninolytic manganese peroxidase activity. Moreover, this study reveals abundant white-rot causing Basidiomycota and soft-rot causing Ascomycota during this phase of wood decomposition.