Aim of the study: Mycorrhizal fungi in Mediterranean forests play a key role in the complex process of recovery after wildfires.
A broader understanding of an important pyrophytic species as Pinus pinaster and its fungal symbionts is thus necessary for forest
restoration purposes. This study aims to assess the effects of ectomycorrhizal symbiosis on maritime pine seedlings and how fire
severity affects fungal colonization ability.
Area of study: Central Spain, in a Mediterranean region typically affected by wildfires dominated by Pinus pinaster, a species
adapted to fire disturbance.
Material and Methods: We studied P. pinaster root apexes from seedlings grown in soils collected one year after fire in undisturbed
sites, sites moderately affected by fire and sites highly affected by fire. Natural ectomycorrhization was observed at the whole
root system level as well as at two root vertical sections (0-10 cm and 10-20 cm). We also measured several morphometric traits
(tap root length, shoot length, dry biomass of shoots and root/shoot ratio), which were used to test the influence of fire severity and
soil chemistry upon them.
Main results: Ectomycorrhizal colonization in undisturbed soils for total and separated root vertical sections was higher than in
soils that had been affected by fire to some degree. Inversely, seedling vegetative size increased according to fire severity.
Research highlights: Fire severity affected soil properties and mycorrhizal colonization one year after occurrence, thus affecting
plant development. These findings can contribute to a better knowledge of the factors mediating successful establishment of P.
pinaster in Mediterranean forests after wildfires.