Klavina, D., Zaluma, A., Pennanen, T., Velmala, S., Gaitnieks, T., Gailis, A. and Menkis, A. 2015. Seed Provenance Impacts Growth and Ectomycorrhizal Colonisation of Picea abies Seedlings. Baltic Forestry 21(2): 184-191

We studied morphological parameters and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal colonisation of Norway spruce (Picea abies) seedlings produced from seeds of Western (W1 and W2 provenances), Central (C1 and C2 provenances) and Eastern (E1 provenance) seed regions in Latvia. In total, 50 seedlings of each seed provenance were cultivated in a sphagnum peat substrate in the plastic pots, which were randomly arranged in an open field in order to allow natural ECM fungal colonisation. After six-year cultivation in a forest nursery, significant differences both in morphological parameters (shoot height, root collar diameter and shoot volume) and in ECM fungal colonisation were detected among seedlings of different regions and provenances. Seedlings of C2 and W2 showed significantly better growth and possessed significantly higher number of ECM morphotypes, while seedlings of W1, and in particular of C1, were of the poorest growth and possessed the lowest number of ECM morphotypes. Nine fungal taxa were revealed amplifying the internal transcribed spacer of fungal ribosomal DNA from 102 selected ECM root tips; amplicon separation on denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) gels and sequencing methods were used. Basidiomycete Amphinema byssoides (33.1%) and ascomycete Wilcoxina sp. (50.3%) dominated fungal communities in roots but their abundances significantly varied among seedlings of different regions and provenances. Principal component analysis showed that fungal communities in seedling roots from the Western, Central and Eastern seed regions were separated from each other thereby showing their certain specificity. In conclusion, the results demonstrated that despite P. abies seedlings of different seed regions and provenances were exposed to the same growth conditions and natural ECM fungal colonisation, the genetic background of the seeds has likely influenced both seedling growth and their root colonisation by ECM fungi. This can be of significant practical importance for successful establishment and growth of seedlings in the nursery and after their outplanting in the field.

Keywords: Picea abies, forest nursery, seed provenance, ectomycorrhiza, fungal community