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Novel Ectomycorrhizal Fungus Beneficial for Restoration of the American Chestnut in Reclaimed Mined Sites

Photo of Planting American chestnut on a reclaimed mine site on the Wayne National Forest. Hiremath, Forest ServicePlanting American chestnut on a reclaimed mine site on the Wayne National Forest. Hiremath, Forest ServiceSnapshot : A major problem in reforestation efforts on nutrient-poor abandoned mined lands are the survival and establishment of planted seedlings in the harsh environment. Inoculating seedlings with suitable mycorrhizal fungi can mitigate this problem by providing improved nutrient and water uptake to the seedling. We have identified a novel native ectomycorrhizal fungus associated with American chestnut seedlings that improves their survival and growth in mined lands.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Hiremath, Shivanand 
Research Location : southeastern Ohio
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 317


As part of the American chestnut restoration project, Forest Service scientists have planted thousands of blight-resistant American chestnut seedlings on reclaimed abandoned mined lands in southeastern Ohio. While evaluating various planting protocols, they tested inoculation with several species of ectomycorrhizal fungi (which play a vital role in tree nutrition), including the well-known Pisolithus tinctorius. However, they found that a novel species of ectomycorrhizal fungus belonging to the genus Scleroderma was the most active and effective in the locations tested. This species appeared to be native to the reclaimed mined lands and was aggressive in forming beneficial symbiotic association with chestnut seedlings, even replacing the other species. Identification through DNA sequencing indicated that the novel species was closely related to Scleroderma areolatum and Scleroderma citrinum. This newly identified novel ectomycorrhizal fungus appears to be better suited to form functional mycorrhizae under environmental extremes. Large-scale tests of this fungus for the restoration of chestnut as well as in reforestation efforts on reclaimed mined sites are planned.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)

Program Areas