Pyroleae species are perennial understory shrubs, many of which are partial mycoheterotrophs. Most fungi colonizing Pyroleae roots are ectomycorrhizal (ECM) and share common mycobionts with their Pyroleae hosts. However, such mycobiont sharing has neither been examined in depth before nor has the interspecific variation in sharing among Pyroleae species. Here, we examined root-associated fungal communities in three co-existing Pyroleae species, including Pyrola alpina, Pyrola incarnata, and Orthilia secunda, with reference to co-existing ECM fungi on the surrounding trees in the same soil blocks in subalpine coniferous forests. We identified 42, 75, and 18 fungal molecular operational taxonomic units in P. alpina, P. incarnata, and O. secunda roots, respectively. Mycobiont sharing with surrounding trees, which was defined as the occurrence of the same mycobiont between Pyroleae and surrounding trees in each soil block, was most frequent among P. incarnata (31 of 44 plants). In P. alpina, sharing was confirmed in 12 of 37 plants, and the fungal community was similar to that of P. incarnata. Mycobiont sharing was least common in O. secunda, found in only 5 of 32 plants. Root-associated fungi of O. secunda were dominated by Wilcoxina species, which were absent from the surrounding ECM roots in the same soil blocks. These results indicate that mycobiont sharing with surrounding trees does not equally occur among Pyroleae plants, some of which may develop independent mycorrhizal associations with ECM fungi, as suggested in O. secunda at our research sites.
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