iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Forest litter as the mulch improving growth and ectomycorrhizal diversity of bare-root Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings

Algis Aučina (1)   , Maria Rudawska (2), Tomasz Leski (2), Audrius Skridaila (1), Izolda Pašakinskiene (1), Edvardas Riepšas (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 8, Issue 4, Pages 394-400 (2014)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1083-008
Published: Aug 20, 2014 - Copyright © 2014 SISEF

Research Articles

In this paper, we report the influence of pine, oak and spruce forest litter on the growth and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) formation of Scots pine seedlings after the first growing season in a bare-root forest nursery. The mixture of collected forest litters and humus were used to obtain a 20-cm mulching layer on the prepared seedbeds. The concentrations of all nutrients and the C/N ratio of growth media were significantly higher in forest litter treatments than in negative control represented by mineral soil without litter. Addition of each forest litter type significantly enhanced pine seedling height and root-collar diameter compared to negative control. A significant positive influence on dry mass of stem, needles, roots and total dry mass of the seedling has been found only for pine litter. Based on molecular identification, seven ECM fungal taxa (Wilcoxina mikolae, Suillus luteus, Cenococcum geophilum, Meliniomyces bicolor, Laccaria laccata, unidentified Atheliaceae, unidentified Ascomycetes) were distinguished in the observed mycorrhizal communities. Each forest litter type significantly increased the total number of mycorrhizal tips and ECM fungal diversity compared to the control soil. However, results showed a lack of significant differences in species composition and relative abundance of ECM fungi between different litter types. Such result suggests that forest litter has not been a key source of inoculum for tested fungal species, as root systems of all pine seedlings from different litter types were dominated by a few nursery- adapted ECM fungi, probably originating from natural air-borne inoculum. Our data rather indicate that forest litter considerably improves environmental conditions for development of ECM fungi previously present in the nursery soil. Therefore, any of the forest litter types used in our studies may be able to promote planting stock quality on a small scale in the nursery phase.


Pinus sylvestris, Seedlings, Forest Nursery, Ectomycorrhiza

Authors’ address

Algis Aučina
Audrius Skridaila
Izolda Pašakinskiene
Botanical Garden of Vilnius University, 43 Kairenu Str., LT-10239 Vilnius (Lithuania)
Maria Rudawska
Tomasz Leski
Institute of Dendrology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 5 Parkowa Str., 62-035 Kórnik (Poland)
Edvardas Riepšas
Department of Sylviculture, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, 11 Studentu Str., Akademija, LT-53361 Kaunas district (Lithuania)

Corresponding author

Algis Aučina


Aučina A, Rudawska M, Leski T, Skridaila A, Pašakinskiene I, Riepšas E (2014). Forest litter as the mulch improving growth and ectomycorrhizal diversity of bare-root Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings. iForest 8: 394-400. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1083-008

Academic Editor

Silvano Fares

Paper history

Received: Jul 24, 2013
Accepted: Apr 29, 2014

First online: Aug 20, 2014
Publication Date: Aug 02, 2015
Publication Time: 3.77 months

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