Wood-decay type and fungal guild dominance across a North American log transplant experiment
We incubated 196 large-diameter aspen (Populus tremuloides), birch (Betula papyrifera), and pine (Pinus taeda) logs on the FACE Wood Decomposition Experiment encompassing eight climatically-distinct forest sites in the United States. We sampled dead wood from these large-diameter logs after 2 to 6 y of decomposition and determined wood rot type as a continuous variable using the lignin loss/density loss ratio (L/D) and assessed wood-rotting fungal guilds using high-throughput amplicon sequencing (HTAS) of the ITS-2 marker. We found L/ D values in line with a white rot dominance in all three tree species, with pine having lower L/D values than aspen and birch. Based on HTAS data, white rot fungi were the most abundant and diverse wood-rotting fungal guild, and soft rot fungi were more abundant and diverse than brown rot fungi in logs with low L/D values. For aspen and birch logs, decay type was related to the wood density at sampling. For the pine logs, decay type was associated with the balance between white and brown/soft rot fungi abundance and OTU richness. Our results demonstrate that decay type is governed by biotic and abiotic factors, which vary by tree species.