Surprising fungal diversity in Arctic driftwood

Fig. 1. Driftwood sampling sites across the Arctic. Wood affected by fungi was collected on Iceland (orange), East Greenland (red), and in the Siberian Lena Delta (blue).

Fig. 1. Driftwood sampling sites across the Arctic. Wood affected by fungi was collected on Iceland (orange), East Greenland (red), and in the Siberian Lena Delta (blue).

As a child, I would play with driftwood on the shores of Lake Superior building my own kingdoms and domains, however I did not realize the potential worlds existing within each of those logs I tossed around like toys. This summer a study was published explaining the rich diversity of fungi found within Arctic driftwood (Blanchette et al., 2016). Researchers sampled driftwood in Iceland, East Greenland and Siberia, and found through isolations and sequencing of the ITS region a 103 different taxa from 80 sampled logs. The majority of fungi were dominated by Ascomycota (150 isolates), with a smaller subset of Basidiomycota (16 isolates) and Zygomycota (11 isolates), but most of these species were not shared between sampling sites. Cadophora was the most common genus, and was reported within all sites and has been commonly found in polar regions. As the majority of all Arctic driftwood originates from Siberia, they reported differences appears to stem from the local fungal population at each site. Overall, the authors concluded more research is warranted as unique fungi persist in the Arctic ecosystem, which will be rapidly changing within the century.

Blanchette, R.A., Held, B.W., Hellmann, L., Millman, L., Büntgen, U. 2016. Arctic drifwood reveals unexpectedly rich fungal diversity. Fungal Ecology 23:58-65

10.12.16

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