Combining high-throughput sequencing with fruit body surveys reveals contrasting life-history strategies in fungi

ISME J. 2013 Sep;7(9):1696-709. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.61. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Before the recent revolution in molecular biology, field studies on fungal communities were mostly confined to fruit bodies, whereas mycelial interactions were studied in the laboratory. Here we combine high-throughput sequencing with a fruit body inventory to study simultaneously mycelial and fruit body occurrences in a community of fungi inhabiting dead wood of Norway spruce. We studied mycelial occurrence by extracting DNA from wood samples followed by 454-sequencing of the ITS1 and ITS2 regions and an automated procedure for species identification. In total, we detected 198 species as mycelia and 137 species as fruit bodies. The correlation between mycelial and fruit body occurrences was high for the majority of the species, suggesting that high-throughput sequencing can successfully characterize the dominating fungal communities, despite possible biases related to sampling, PCR, sequencing and molecular identification. We used the fruit body and molecular data to test hypothesized links between life history and population dynamic parameters. We show that the species that have on average a high mycelial abundance also have a high fruiting rate and produce large fruit bodies, leading to a positive feedback loop in their population dynamics. Earlier studies have shown that species with specialized resource requirements are rarely seen fruiting, for which reason they are often classified as red-listed. We show with the help of high-throughput sequencing that some of these species are more abundant as mycelium in wood than what could be expected from their occurrence as fruit bodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / genetics
  • Biodiversity*
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Fruiting Bodies, Fungal / classification
  • Fruiting Bodies, Fungal / genetics
  • Fruiting Bodies, Fungal / physiology*
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing*
  • Mycelium / classification
  • Mycelium / genetics
  • Mycelium / physiology*
  • Picea / microbiology
  • Wood / chemistry
  • Wood / microbiology*


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer