Effects of endophytic and ectomycorrhizal basidiomycetes on Quercus virginiana seedling growth and nutrient absorption

Quercus virginiana (Fagaceae), native to the southeastern United States, has recently been introduced to the Yangtze Delta (China) and is often planted in landscaping and in coastal shelter forests. Here, we performed pot inoculation assays to evaluate the effects of two types of basidiomycetous root fungal symbionts, across four orders, on the growth and nutrient absorption of Q. virginiana seedlings. The results indicated that two isolates showed plant growth-promoting activities 2 months after inoculation. In particular, the ectomycorrhizal Sistotrema sp. (Cantharellales) had a pronounced effect on root development and morphology. With regard to nutrient absorption, the total nitrogen content in aboveground tissues was improved in inoculated seedlings, although most differences were not significant. Meanwhile, the total phosphorus contents in seedlings were either positively or negatively affected, probably depending on the symbiont type. Interestingly, the total potassium content in stems and leaves was significantly enhanced in all treatment groups. In addition, indole-3-acetic acid and abscisic acid production were determined in Sistotrema sp. and Atractiella rhizophila (Pucciniomycotina) by high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Our findings suggest that both endophytic and ectomycorrhizal fungi have beneficial effects on Q. virginiana growth, and highlight the potential for the development of mycobiome-based seedling raising techniques.