Obtaining reliable and representative mushroom production data requires time-consuming sampling schemes. In this paper, we assessed a simple methodology to detect mushroom emergence by trapping the fungal spores of the fruiting body community in plots where mushroom production was determined weekly. We compared the performance of filter paper traps with that of funnel traps and combined these spore trapping methods with species-specific quantitative real-time PCR and Illumina MiSeq to determine the spore abundance. Significantly more MiSeq proportional reads were generated for both ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal species using filter traps than were obtained using funnel traps. The spores of 37 fungal species that produced fruiting bodies in the study plots were identified. Spore community composition changed considerably over time due to the emergence of ephemeral fruiting bodies and rapid spore deposition (lasting from 1 to 2 weeks), which occurred in the absence of rainfall events. For many species, the emergence of epigeous fruiting bodies was followed by a peak in the relative abundance of their airborne spores. There were significant positive relationships between fruiting body yields and spore abundance in time for five of seven fungal species. There was no relationship between fruiting body yields and their spore abundance at plot level, indicating that some of the spores captured in each plot were arriving from the surrounding areas. Differences in fungal detection capacity by spore trapping may indicate different dispersal ability between fungal species. Further research can help to identify the spore rain patterns for most common fungal species.IMPORTANCE Mushroom monitoring represents a serious challenge in economic and logistical terms because sampling approaches demand extensive field work at both the spatial and temporal scales. In addition, the identification of fungal taxa depends on the expertise of experienced fungal taxonomists. Similarly, the study of fungal dispersal has been constrained by technological limitations, especially because the morphological identification of spores is a challenging and time-consuming task. Here, we demonstrate that spores from ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal species can be identified using simple spore traps together with either MiSeq fungus-specific amplicon sequencing or species-specific quantitative real-time PCR. In addition, the proposed methodology can be used to characterize the airborne fungal community and to detect mushroom emergence in forest ecosystems.
Keywords: DNA barcoding; Lactarius; dispersion; ectomycorrhizal; fungi; molecular identification; propagules; saprotroph.
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