Ectomycorrhizal Diversity from Himalayan Forests of Pakistan

Arooj Naseer
Arooj Naseer
project abstract

The Himalaya Hindu Kush mountain range is a biodiversity hotspot, yet underexplored for soil fungal diversity. It exhibits broad environmental gradients in elevation as well as geographical and temporal gradients in precipitation. These mountains host many ectomycorrhizal trees like oaks, pines, cedars. These sites will be explored for ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) including dry and moist temperate forests in Pakistan. The moist temperate forests are located in Kaghan and Bahrian with the dry temperate forests located in Kalam and Parachinar. The ectomycorrhizal fungi will be identified by amplification of ITS as well as LSU region (SSU, rpb if needed). The soil samples will be analyzed by illumina sequencing. Repeating sampling throughout the year will further determine differences among seasons, specifically in relation to the monsoon which is a key climatic event in the region where 80 % of yearly precipitation falls in 3 months. The contrasting precipitation patterns among the habitats and seasons will identify the driving forces for distribution of EMF taxa in relation to this key environmental parameter. The data obtained will unveil the hidden treasure of below-ground plant root symbiotic fungal taxa.