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Microbial Interactions in the plant-soil continuum: Research results presented at the Workshop “Mycorrhizal Symbiosis in the Southern Cone of South America”



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Roberto Godoy1, Patricia Silva-Flores2,3, Paula Aguilera4, César Marín1*
1Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales y Evolutivas, Universidad Austral de Chile,Valdivia,
Chile. 2Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Fruticultura -CEAF, Rengo, Chile.3Departamento
de Botánica, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. 4Center of Amelioration
and Sustainability of Volcanic Soils, BIOREN-UFRO, Universidad de La
Frontera, Temuco, Chile. *Corresponding author:
Microbial Interactions in the plant-soil continuum:
Research results presented at the Workshop “Mycorrhizal
Symbiosis in the Southern Cone of South America”
2 Editorial
Godoy et al.
The Southern Cone of South America sustains sev-
eral types of ecosystems such as old-growth temper-
ate rainforests, Mediterranean woodland and scrub
forests, Pampa, and many others. These ecosystems
are of global importance; for example, the temperate
rainforests in this region account for more than half
of all southern hemisphere temperate rainforests. Fur-
thermore, Chilean Mediterranean ecosystems, which
are unique to South America, are one of only ve
Mediterranean regions in the world. Also, and despite
the harsh conditions, agroecosystems on this region
sustain a great amount of productivity. Since the Ho-
locene, the oristic composition of all ecosystems
found in the Southern Cone of South America has
been stable and is marked by high endemism resulting
from Pleistocene glaciations and postglacial climatic
uctuations. Specically, the Chilean Coastal Range
served as a glacial refugium for plants, causing this
area to have high plant diversity at the family level
and isolated monotypic genera. The Coastal Range
bedrock is highly weathered, and oceanic atmospher-
ic nutrients have a signicant inuence. In contrast,
nutrient inputs to steep slopes of the Andes Range
are mostly generated by young volcanic ash deposits
and weathered basaltic volcanic scoria. Overall, these
ecosystems have extreme environmental, edaphic,
and orographic conditions that are enhanced by earth-
quakes and volcanic activity. Furthermore, the soil of
these ecosystems is characterized by a high retention
of organic matter, low plant available phosphorus, and
phytotoxic aluminum levels. As a consequence of the
unique conditions of these ecosystems, several oris-
tic types can be found in the Coastal and Andes Rang-
es, for example: native conifer-dominated forests, e.g.
Fitzroya cupressoides, angiosperm dominated forests
Nothofagus spp., Valdivian forests, and others.
One important trait of almost all plants of the South-
ern Cone of South America is their mycorrhizal as-
sociation type. For example, ectomycorrhizal (EM)
forms are dominant in Nothofagus forests, and ar-
buscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations are usually
found with subordinate plants, though the contrary
pattern is seen in native coniferous forests. Addition-
ally, AM associations are dominant in Mediterranean
forests, though EM associations are found with few
tree species. Overall, however, soil fungal communi-
ties, and specically mycorrhizal associations, have
been poorly studied in the Southern Cone of South
America. The rst mycorrhizal studies in Chile deter-
mined the mycorrhizal dominance of conifer trees and
Nothofagus species as well as the mycotrophic status
of the vascular ora of several vegetation types. Some
recent molecular studies have been focused on the
study of soil fungal assemblages in North-Patagonia,
specically AM and EM fungi in Chilean (Coast and
Andes) and Argentinean Nothofagus and coniferous
forests. Other molecular studies have sought to char-
acterize AM and orchid mycorrhizal (OM) fungi of
the Mediterranean forests of Central Chile. Recent
global studies have also included Chilean and Argen-
tinean coniferous forests, comparing all fungal asso-
ciations, or specically AM fungal communities.
This Special Issue of the Journal of Soil Science and
Plant Nutrition, contains research results presented at
the Workshop: “Mycorrhizal Symbiosis in the South-
ern Cone of South America,” as well as research
within the general topic of microbial-plant-soil inter-
actions. The workshop aimed at establishing the status
of research of mycorrhizal symbiosis in the Southern
Cone of South America. Furthermore, the workshop
aimed to facilitate collaboration between researchers,
students, and the mycorrhizal scientic community of
Argentina, Chile, and other countries.
The workshop had seven key lectures by: Álvaro G.
Gutiérrez (Universidad de Chile, Chile), Andrea Pre-
moli (Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Argentina),
Götz Palfner (Universidad de Concepción, Chile), Fer-
nando Borie and Pablo Cornejo (Universidad de La
Frontera, Chile), Maarja Öpik (University of Tartu,
Estonia), C. Guillermo Bueno (University of Tartu,
Estonia), and Jens Boy (Leibniz Universität Han-
nover, Germany). The key lectures covered topics
such as temperate rainforest plant biodiversity (A.G.
Gutiérrez and A. Premoli), EM fungal diversity pat-
terns (G. Palfner), the effects of AM fungi on soil
properties and on agriculture and bioremediation (F.
Borie – P. Cornejo), molecular community ecology
of AM fungi from local to global scales (M. Öpik),
plant mycorrhizal traits across different scales (C.G.
Bueno), and biogenic weathering by mycorrhiza (J.
Boy). Overall, there were over 70 participants for this
workshop, coming from eight countries (Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, Estonia, Germany, Spain, United King-
dom, and Uruguay), and 26 institutions (including
universities, research centers, companies, foundations
and public entities). Besides the seven key lectures,
14 oral presentations and 28 posters were presented
at the workshop with topics ranging from agriculture
and agroforestry — with a strong emphasis on wine
and wheat production, bioremediation, ecological res-
toration and land use, plant invasions and their my-
corrhizas, mycorrhizal biodiversity at different scales,
public management and outreach, and mycorrhizal
interactions with soil nutrients and with biogeochemi-
cal cycles. Research groups from Universidad Austral
de Chile (Chile), Universidad de La Frontera (Chile),
Universidad de Concepción (Chile), and Universidad
Nacional del Comahue (Argentina) contributed with
numerous presentations. Both experimental and de-
scriptive approaches were presented, using both mor-
phological and molecular methods to study AM, EM
and OM fungi.
As this workshop was the rst of its kind for the south-
ern part of South America and for South America
overall, it can be concluded that its aims were far sur-
passed since it became evident that South American
mycorrhizal research is more relevant than previously
though. Imitating mycorrhizal networks, which can
occupy hundreds of hectares, hopefully the mycorrhi-
zal researchers’ network facilitated by this workshop
will cover the South American continent and extend
abroad. Finally, we are conscious that there is still
much to do regarding mycorrhizal research in South
America; however this workshop was the rst inocu-
lum for the future of an incipient South American my-
corrhizal research network.
This workshop was organized by the Universidad
Austral de Chile, Universidad de La Frontera, Uni-
versidad de Concepción, Centro de Estudios Avan-
zados en Fruticultura -CEAF, and the EarthShape
Project (DFG). Special thanks to sponsoring institu-
tions: CONICYT, CONAF, Sociedad Chilena de la
Ciencia del Suelo, Sociedad de Botánica de Chile,
Sociedad de Ecología de Chile and the Global Soil
Biodiversity Initiative.
... Thus, mycorrhizal fungi can be a key element for the restoration process by increasing plant performance in stressful conditions, improving water and nutrient uptake [43], and improving biological [44] and physicochemical characteristics of the soil [45,46]. Current knowledge of mycorrhizal fungi diversity and native plant-fungi associations in the Chilean Mediterranean zone, and sclerophyllous forest in particular, is very limited [47]. Thus, the effect of the mycorrhizal fungi, and principally mycorrhizal symbiosis, on the physiological performance of native plants is seldom assessed and, consequently, their application in restoration is very difficult to evaluate. ...
Full-text available
The Chilean matorral is a heavily threatened Mediterranean-type ecosystem due to human-related activities such as anthropogenic fires. Mycorrhizal fungi may be the key microorganisms to help plants cope with environmental stress and improve the restoration of degraded ecosystems. However, the application of mycorrhizal fungi in the restoration of the Chilean matorral is limited because of insufficient local information. Consequently, we assessed the effect of mycorrhizal inoculation on the survival and photosynthesis at set intervals for two years after a fire event in four native woody plant species, namely: Peumus boldus, Quillaja saponaria, Cryptocarya alba, and Kageneckia oblonga, all dominant species of the matorral. Additionally, we assessed the enzymatic activity of three enzymes and macronutrient in the soil in mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. The results showed that mycorrhizal inoculation increased survival in all studied species after a fire and increased photosynthesis in all, but not in P. boldus. Additionally, the soil associated with mycorrhizal plants had higher enzymatic activity and macronutrient levels in all species except in Q. saponaria, in which there was no significant mycorrhization effect. The results suggest that mycorrhizal fungi could increase the fitness of plants used in restoration initiatives after severe disturbances such as fires and, consequently, should be considered for restoration programs of native species in threatened Mediterranean ecosystems.
... The South American Mycorrhizal Research Network (SAMRN; https://southmycor was established in 2017 (Bueno et al., 2017a;Godoy et al., 2017) as an horizontal and cooperative effort integrating researchers from the five continents ( Fig. 1), which aims to assess the continent's mycorrhizal biodiversity and its role in reducing the impact of current environmental changes. ...
... In this context, the integration of Southern needs and perspectives of mycorrhizal research into operative networking efforts in collaboration with Northern researchers, can strengthen local and global research, creating successful and mutualistic collaborative efforts. One recent example of these collaborative efforts is the South American Mycorrhizal Research Network (SAMRN) (Bueno et al. 2017a;Godoy et al. 2017), which is an horizontal scientific community directed towards the progress of mycorrhizal research and knowledge, along with applications and public outreach in SA. The SAMRN is constructed on the basis of collaborative efforts, to overcome the lack of funding or collaboration between South American and European or North American funding agencies (Amano and Sutherland 2013). ...
Full-text available
With the application of new molecular analyses to determine soil fungal community composition, and with new macroecological approaches to analyze the biogeographic patterns of mycorrhizal plant species and communities, mycorrhizal ecology has notably advanced. However, this advance has not been balanced between Northern and Southern hemispheres. While the most complex ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots are located in the south, the initiatives and resources to investigate them are mostly coming from the north. This situation leads to the development of northern perspectives on southern areas, enlarging the gap between the research needs for local sustainable development and the improvement of global mycorrhizal ecological models. In this review, we compare the research production of South America and Europe, analyzing their chronological and thematic trends from 1975 to 2018. In Europe, a total of 1927 articles were produced, with a majority of articles focusing on the anthropogenic effects on the mycorrhizal symbiosis, while 797 articles were produced in South America (SA), with a majority focusing on the community structure of mycorrhizal fungi. We suggest that the lack of research resources in the Southern hemisphere can be overcome by using regional/social symbiotic strategies, networking, and collaborative initiatives, enhancing the integration of southern research into the global context.
... Esta línea de investigación después fue complementada, ampliada y metodológicamente actualizada por diferentes investigadores (Garrido, 1988;Godoy y Mayr, 1989;Carrillo et al., 1992;Godoy et al., 1994;Palfner y Godoy, 1996a, b;Flores et al. 1997;Valenzuela et al., 1999Valenzuela et al., , 2001Palfner, 2001;Marín et al., 2016Marín et al., , 2017aAguilera et al., 2017). Sobre todo en la caracterización de las especies y comunidades de hongos nativos se ha observado un incremento del uso de métodos moleculares durante los últimos veinte años (Palfner y Horak, 2001;Bueno et al., 2017;Godoy et al., 2017;Marín et al., 2017b;Truong et al., 2017). Sin embargo, el aumento en las especies fúngicas descritas para Chile no está a paso con el conocimiento de su frecuencia y distribución en el territorio nacional, condición básica para realizar un análisis de su estado de conservación. ...
Full-text available
Though Chile has a large variety of fungi and a long tradition of research on this fiels, there is little information on its conservation status, specifically in relation to its presence in protected areas. This review was intended to establish the conservation status of terrestrial fungi and inside the protected areas in Chile, recording examples on the conservation of the Chilean fungi diversity and stating the latest developments in the field of micology inside the Chilean educational system. The results showed that according to the current list of twenty eight species classified under the conservation cathegory, there are therteen species showing some degree of threat and twenty of therm can be found in protected areas, though the quantitative information about fungi species inside protected areas is almos nonexistent. Though the teaching about fungi has almost no part in the Chilean educational system, there are several public-private initatives for their conservation. For an effective conservation of the national biota there must be a major research and funding, a better systematization of the information on the presence of fungi species inside protected areas, a reinforcement of the fungi subject in the educational system and among parkrangers, in addition to establish base documents on fungi diversity in Chile.
... Although the study of fungal diversity has been traditionally dependent on fruiting bodies, as in this study, there is an increasing necessity of comparing these results with those from molecular and metagenomic studies 37,38 . The Puyehue National Park, where this study took place, has been recently studied in terms of its AM fungal diversity 14,15 , and in its whole soil fungal diversity 7 , including all fungal functional groups (EM, AM, saprophytic fungi, lichens, etc.). ...
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Chilean temperate rainforests have unique climatic, edaphic and biotic conditions, constituting pre-industrial blueprint ecosystems. Mycorrhizal associations play a central role in the biogeochemical processes of these ecosystems´functioning ecosystems´functioning. Baseline forest ecology studies are necessary in order to better understand diversity patterns, specifically regarding mycorrhizal symbiosis. Therefore, here we describe the vegetation characteristics and the mycorrhizal relationships of vascular plants in a Nothofagus pumilio forest. We also describe, via morphological methods, the ectomycorrhizal diversity present in this forest. Additionally, we determined whether ectomycorrhizal inoculation confers positive growth effects on N. pumilio seedlings. We found that from 46 vascular plant species identified in this study, 42 (91%) were mycorrhizal and of these 33 (72%) were associated with arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), two (the dominant trees N. pumilio and N. dombeyi) were forming ectomycorrhizae (EM), five were associated with ericoid mycorrhizae, two with orchid mycorrhizae, and four were non-mycorrhizal. Additionally, 26 EM species were detected of which 15 belong to Cortinarius. Finally , there were clear differences in the growth of N. pumilio seedlings inoculated with the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria laccata compared to non-inoculated plants. We suggest that mycorrhizal fungi play a key role in seedling colonization of harsh environments such as the Andean treeline.
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