Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Erik Lilleskov


Heljä-Sisko Helimsaari


Nursery grown seedlings are an essential part of the forestry industry. These seedlings are grown under high nutrient conditions caused by fertilization. Though grown in a controlled environment, symbionts such as ectomycorrhizal fungi (EcMF) are often found in these conditions. To examine the effects of EcMF in these conditions, colonized Picea glauca seedlings were collected from Toumey Nursery in Watersmeet, MI. After collection, the EcMF present were morphotyped, and seedlings with different morphotypes were divided equally into two treatment types- fertilized and unfertilized. Seedlings received treatment for one growing season. After that time, seedlings were collected, ectomycorrhizas identified using morphotyping and DNA sequencing, and seedlings were analyzed for differences in leaf nutrient concentration, content, root to shoot ratio, total biomass, and EcMF community structure.

DNA sequencing identified 5 unique species groups- Amphinema sp. 1, Amphinema sp. 5, Thelephora terrestris, Sphaerosporella brunnea, and Boletus variipes. In the unfertilized treatment it was found that Amphinema sp. 1 strongly negatively impacted foliar N concentration. In fertilized seedlings, Thelephora terrestris had a strong negative impact on foliar phosphorus concentration, while Amphinema sp. 1 positively impacted foliar boron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus concentration. In terms of content, Amphinema sp. 1 led to significantly higher content of manganese and boron in fertilized treatments, as well as elevated phosphorus in unfertilized seedlings. Amphinema sp. 5 had a significant negative effect on phosphorus content. When examining root to shoot ratio and biomass, those seedlings with more non-mycorrhizal tips had a higher root to shoot ratio.

Findings from the study shed light on the interactions of the species. Amphinema sp. 5 shows very different functionality than Amphinema sp. 1. Amphinema sp. 1 appears to have the highest positive effect on seedling nutrition when in both fertilized and unfertilized environments. Amphinema sp. 5 and T. terrestris appear to behave parasitically in both fertilized and unfertilized conditions.