How are mycorrhizae communities distributed in the mangrove, restinga, and forest on Santa Catarina Island?

Maria Alice Neves
Maria Alice Neves
Atlantic Forest, Florianópolis, Southern Brazil
project abstract

Santa Catarina Island, in southern Brazil, is covered with Atlantic Forest and has mangroves and restinga that act as buffers between the ocean and rainforest. The goals of this project are to understand how many taxa of mycorrhizal fungi are shared between the restinga and forest and to investigate the presence of mycorrhizae in the mangroves. Several woody species grow in the harsh conditions of the restinga, and a few of these also grow in the adjacent forest. These plants often have different habits, such as shrubs in the restinga and tall trees in the forest. Mangroves have their own distinct flora with species that are mostly restricted to this environment. We propose two hypotheses: 1) the community of ectomycorrhizal fungi in the restinga soil is similar to that in the forest; and 2) the diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi in the mangroves is low. The mangroves and restinga are threatened due to climate change and real estate development. Another problem on the island is the spread of exotic Pinus and Eucalyptus species that were introduced. It is unknown how the local fungi communities are affected by the exotic fungi that were introduced with these plants. Knowing the soil fungal communities will allow us to better understand the effects of the invasive species on native plants and to select potential native taxa to be used in restoration projects.

We will promote events open to the public so local communities and students can be involved. For example, the Rick Foray and EctoSul will include field expeditions and talks that emphasize the importance of fungi in the soil. We will also teach participants how to look for ectomycorrhizal mushrooms and recognize and collect ectomycorrhizae in the field, as well as show them root tips with mycorrhizae using dissecting microscopes.