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Habitat conditions and phenological tree traits overrule the influence of tree genotype in the needle mycobiome–Picea glauca system at an arctic treeline ecotone

- Plant-associated mycobiomes in extreme habitats are understudied and poorly understood. - We analysed Illumina-generated ITS1 sequences from the needle mycobiome of white spruce (Picea glauca) at the northern treeline in Alaska (USA). Sequences were obtained from the same DNA that was used for tree genotyping. In the present study, fungal metabarcoding and tree microsatellite data were compared for the first time. - In general, neighbouring trees shared more fungal taxa with each other than trees growing in further distance. Mycobiomes correlated strongly with phenological host traits and local habitat characteristics contrasting a dense forest stand with an open treeline site. Genetic similarity between trees did not influence fungal composition and no significant correlation existed between needle mycobiome and tree genotype. - Our results suggest the pronounced influence of local habitat conditions and phenotypic tree traits on needle-inhabiting fungi. By contrast, the tree genetic identity cannot be benchmarked as a dominant driver for needle-inhabiting mycobiomes, at least not for white spruce in this extreme environment.



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