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Suillus pungens
Suillus pungens photographed by Nhu Nguyen, December 12, 2015. Point Reyes National Seashore, California.

Suillus pungens

Suillus pungens is a mutualistic ectomycorrhizal mushroom-forming fungus that exchanges soil mineral nutrients for photosynthates from its tree host. It is a host specialist, forming associations with trees in the genus Pinus subgenus Pinus. It is native to mostly coastal California and southern Oregon, although specimens have been found in Alberta, Canada. The species is distinctive in that immature mushroom specimens start out white or olive gray, often with milky droplets on the pore surface, and maturing to buff orange. Suillus pungens is also exemplary of ectomycorrhizal fungi with a ruderal ecological strategy. In the ectomycorrhizal fungal communities where it occurs, it is amongst the most prolific mushroom and spore producers (Gardes & Bruns 1996; Peay et al. 2012). As a result, it is one of the most common ectomycorrhizal fungi found on young pines (Peay et al. 2007), and plays a critical role in enabling successful seedling establishment (Peay 2018).  Despite its prolific dispersal ability, it is a poor competitor and tends to be replaced by other species as the host tree matures (Kennedy et al. 2011; Smith et al. 2018; Duhamel et al. 2019).

Suillus as a genus is one of the most common ectomycorrhizal symbionts of the pine family (Pinaceae) in the northern hemisphere. Commonly known as ‘Slippery Jacks’, the mushrooms of this genus provide food for both wildlife and humans. Suillus species have been used in forest restoration following natural and human-made disturbances, have potential for bioremediation (mycoremediation), and likely play an important role in facilitating soil carbon sequestration in mycorrhizal forests.

This genome is part of the Community Science Program (Proposal 502931) “A genome atlas of the ectomycorrhizal genus Suillus: Phylogenetic diversity and population genomics of a keystone guild of symbiotic forest fungi”, a collaborative effort aimed at using genomics data to understand and connect the evolutionary history, ecology, and genomic mechanisms of mutualistic ectomycorrhizal symbionts and their Pinaceae hosts. Please contact the PI for permission prior to the use of any data in publications.

References:

Duhamel, M., J. Wan, L. M. Bogar, R. M. Segnitz, N. E. Duncrits, and K. G. Peay. 2019. Plant selection initiates alternative successional trajectories in the soil microbial community after disturbance. Ecological Monographs 83:e01367.

Gardes, M., and T. D. Bruns. 1996. Community structure of ectomycorrhizal fungi in a Pinus muricata forest:  above- and below-ground views. Canadian Journal of Botany 74:1572-1583.

Kennedy, P. G., L. M. Higgins, R. H. Rogers, and M. G. Weber. 2011. Colonization-competition tradeoffs as a mechanism driving successional dynamics in ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. Plos One 6:e25126.

Peay, K. G., T. D. Bruns, P. G. Kennedy, S. E. Bergemann, and M. Garbelotto. 2007. A strong species-area relationship for eukaryotic soil microbes:  island size matters for ectomycorrhizal fungi. Ecology Letters 10:470-480.

Peay, K. G., M. G. Schubert, N. H. Nguyen, and T. D. Bruns. 2012. Measuring ectomycorrhizal fungal dispersal: macroecological patterns driven by microscopic propagules. Molecular Ecology 16:4122-4136.

Peay, K. G. 2018. Timing of mutualist arrival has a greater effect on Pinus muricata seedling growth than interspecific competition. Journal of Ecology 106:514-523.

Smith, G. R., B. S. Steidinger, T. D. Bruns, and K. G. Peay. 2018. Competition-colonization tradeoffs structure fungal diversity. ISME Journal 12:1758-1767.