Ectomycorrhizal exploration types are commonly assumed to denote spatial foraging patterns and resource-related niches of extraradical mycelia. However, empirical evidence of the consistency of foraging strategies within exploration types is lacking. Here, we analysed ectomycorrhizal foraging patterns by incubating root-excluding ingrowth mesh bags filled with six different substrates in mature Picea abies forests. High-throughput sequencing was used to characterise ectomycorrhizal fungal communities in the mesh bags and on adjacent fine roots after one growing season. Contrary to expectations, many ectomycorrhizal genera of exploration types that are thought to produce little extraradical mycelium colonised ingrowth bags extensively, whereas genera commonly associated with ample mycelial production occurred sparsely in ingrowth bags relative to their abundance on roots. Previous assumptions about soil foraging patterns of exploration types do not seem to hold. Instead, we propose that variation in the proliferation of extraradical mycelium is related to intergeneric differences in mycelial longevity and the mobility of targeted resources.
Keywords: boreal forest; cafeteria experiment; ectomycorrhizal exploration types; fungal networks; nutrient foraging; soil fungi.
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