Ecological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 435–444 | Cite as

Fungal succession and decomposition of Pinus densiflora snags

  • Yu Fukasawa
Original Article


Fungal decomposition of coarse woody debris has an essential role in the biodiversity and carbon and nutrient dynamics in forest ecosystems. However, our knowledge of the effects of fungal species and within-stem diversity on wood decay is limited. In this paper, I described the process of wood decay and fungal succession of pine (Pinus densiflora) snags using chronosequence method. The results showed that the decay process differed between sapwood and heartwood. Sapwood decayed faster than heartwood, despite their initial densities being the same. Sapwood decay occurred in two phases. The first phase involved a typical white-rot process wherein acid-unhydrolysable residue (lignin) and holocellulose decayed simultaneously. White-rot species, such as Trichaptum abietinum and Phanerochaete sordida, were the dominant fungi and were likely the functional decomposers in this phase. The second phase involved selective decomposition of holocellulose. The dominant fungi in this phase included soft-rot species, such as Trichoderma spp., that can decompose holocellulose in wood that was previously delignified by white-rot species. In contrast to sapwood, heartwood experienced less loss of wood density and no clear change in lignocellulose composition, even in later stages of decay. Dominant fungi in heartwood included the latent inhabitants of living pine trees, such as Ascocoryne cylichnium, which is known to reduce colonization and wood decay by strong decomposers. These results suggest that, in addition to decay-resistant chemicals present in heartwood, the differences in the fungal communities present in heartwood and sapwood were responsible for the differences in their decay rates.


Decay Fungal community Heartwood Pine Sapwood 



I wish to thank Ayumi Matsuo and Takeshi Taniguchi for technical advises in DNA analysis. Thanks are extended to Toshihiro Yabuki for Trichoderma identification and Yosuke Degawa for Mortierella identification. I also thank Emma Gilmartin for her helpful comments on the draft manuscript. This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant number 23780156 for YF.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest. All the experiments undertaken in this study comply with the current laws of Japan.

Supplementary material

11284_2017_1557_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (48 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Forest Ecology, Graduate School of Agricultural ScienceTohoku UniversityOsakiJapan
  2. 2.School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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