Fungi Help Black Spruce Adapt to Different Soils

The suite of symbiotic fungi associated with black spruce tree roots indicates the tree adapts well to soils ranging from dry uplands to saturated wetlands.

A spruce tree's complement of ectomycorrhizal fungi depends upon the soil conditions it's growing in.

Each of three habitats investigated near Prince George, British Columbia had 20 fungal morphotypes, with half of these dominating black spruce roots. But there also are rare species, confined to specific conditions. For instance, Piloderma fallax occurs only at upland sites and almost always on tree roots running through rotting wood. As well, six of the 14 most common fungi vary among the habitats in their abundance.

In the Sub-boreal Spruce biogeoclimatic zone of central BC, 33 morphotypes comprising 65 genotypes of ectomycorrhizal fungi were identified on spruce roots. The greatest diversity of fungi occurred on the driest sites where lodgepole pine mingles with black spruce. Each black spruce tree examined averaged 4 or 5 types of fungi covering 85 percent of its root tips.


Susan J. Robertson, Linda E. Tackaberry, Keith N. Egger and Hugues B. Massicotte. 2006. Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of black spruce differ between wetland and upland forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 36(4): 972-985.

Back to Top
Science Articles