|Virzo de Santo, A; Rutigliano, FA; Berg, B; Fioretto, A; Puppi, G; Alfani, A: Fungal mycelium and decomposition of needle litter in three contrasting coniferous forests, Acta Oecologica, 23, 247-259 (2002)|
The fungal mycelium ingrowth and the rates of mass loss and respiration of needle litter of Pinus pinea, Pinus laricio, Pinus sylvestris, and Abies alba were investigated, in three coniferous forests, over a 3-year period by means of a composite set of incubations. In the early stages, the fungal flora of the decomposing needles was dominated by dematiaceous hyphomycetes and coelomycetes. Basidiomycetes reached a peak after 6 months on pine needles, but were absent from the N-rich needles of A. alba. Soil fungi (Penicillium, Trichoderma, Absidia, Mucor sp. pl.) became most frequent in later stages. At the end of the study period, the total mycelium amount showed the lowest values in all pine needles incubated in the P. laricio forest and the highest ones in P. pinea needles incubated in the P. pinea forest. In all data sets, as in data for boreal forests examined for comparison, the concentration of litter fungal mycelium versus litter mass loss followed a common exponential model. However, in later stages, the amount of litter fungal mycelium was very close to that of the humus at the incubation site, thus supporting the hypothesis of a logistic growth pattern. Respiration rates of decomposing litters varied with season and decreased with litter age to values close to those of the humus at the incubation site. Respiration of water-saturated litter was negatively correlated with the total mycelium concentration, and this was consistent with the observation that in far-decomposed litter only a minor fraction of the total mycelium is alive.