Plant and Soil

, Volume 362, Issue 1–2, pp 175–186 | Cite as

Fungal community composition shifts along a leaf degradation gradient in a European beech forest

  • Derek Peršoh
  • Julia Segert
  • Anja Zigan
  • Gerhard Rambold
Regular Article



The fungal communities in living and decomposed leaves of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) were compared to identify the phyllosphere fungi involved in litter decomposition at a site in Bavaria, Germany.


New primers were designed to cover a broad range of fungal ribosomal DNA sequence diversity. Following ‘environmental PCR’, clone libraries from each of five samples of living leaves (surface-sterilized and untreated), freshly fallen, initially and highly decomposed leaves, were screened using RFLP fingerprinting.


Statistical analysis (ANOSIM) revealed that the fungal communities colonizing living (a) and initially decomposed leaves (c) significantly differed between each other and from freshly fallen (b) and highly decomposed leaves (d). Fungal assemblages of a and d were statistically indistinguishable from each other and from the endophyllous fungal community in living leaves.


The results showed that endophyllous fungi play a role throughout the whole decomposition process of beech leaf litter. Therefore, clarification of the life cycle of certain endophytic and/or soil fungi may only be achieved by considering both phyllosphere and soil habitats.


Fagus sylvatica (European Beech) Phyllosphere Endophytic fungi Soil fungi ITS rRNA gene RFLP fingerprints 



We appreciate the support given by Ulrich Mergner (Ebrach) in allocating the sampling site. Dominik Begerow and Andrey Yurkov (both Bochum) shared with us details on Erythrobasidiaceae. Fabienne Flessa and Alexandra Kehl provided valuable information concerning data analysis, Sebastian Werner and Christina Leistner assisted with laboratory work (all Bayreuth). Suggestions of Marc Stadler (Bayreuth) helped to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11104_2012_1271_MOESM1_ESM.xls (40 kb)
Table S1 Details on the assignment to RFLP types, genotypes and taxa of selected sequences. The most similar sequence found in GenBank is given in the following section. The assigned name is listed in the third part, together with the “Bit Score” of the worst matching sequence considered for the name assignment. The sequences considered for name assignment (i.e. sequences obtaining “Bit Scores” which are at least 0.9 times as high as the “Bit Score” obtained by the best matching sequence), are categorized as matches (i.e. sequences deposited under names matching the assigned name), ambiguities (i.e. sequences deposited under names neither confirming nor objecting the assigned name), and the number of outliers (i.e. sequences deposited under names not considered for the name assignment). (XLS 39 kb)
11104_2012_1271_MOESM2_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Table S2 Fraction of sequences in selected taxa matched by the primer sequences. The percentage of sequences matched perfectly (0 MM) and with one mismatch (1 MM) by the primers among the checked sequences (N) is given. (DOC 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Peršoh
    • 1
  • Julia Segert
    • 1
  • Anja Zigan
    • 1
  • Gerhard Rambold
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MycologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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