iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Potential spread of forest soil-borne fungi through earthworm consumption and casting

Lucio Montecchio (1), Linda Scattolin (1)   , Andrea Squartini (2), Kevin Richard Butt (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 295-301 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1217-008
Published: Aug 26, 2014 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

To test if forest soil-borne fungi concerned with plant health can be selectively dispersed by earthworms, 10 fungal species isolated from 5 forests were presented, at 2 concentrations, to 3 ecologically distinct earthworm species in laboratory trials. Between 5 and 13 days after introduction, casts were collected, where possible, from each earthworm species fed with a different fungus. These casts were analysed, using molecular methods, for the presence of the given fungus and its vitality verified through traditional plating techniques. The research confirmed that earthworms have an important role in dispersal of soil fungi in forests, and that such activity can depend on the taxonomical position of the fungus, ecological category of the earthworm species involved and the fungal concentration. In certain instances there is a suggestion that some fungi may be toxic to some earthworms at the given concentrations, which equated to those within and outside of the rhizosphere.


Earthworms, Soil-borne Fungi, Fungal Inoculum, Ecology, Dispersal

Authors’ address

Lucio Montecchio
Linda Scattolin
TeSAF Department, University of Padova, v.le dell’Università 16, I-35020 Legnaro (PD, Italy)
Andrea Squartini
DAFNAE Department, University of Padova, v.le dell’Università 16, I-35020 Legnaro (PD, Italy)
Kevin Richard Butt
School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE (United Kingdom)

Corresponding author

Linda Scattolin


Montecchio L, Scattolin L, Squartini A, Butt KR (2015). Potential spread of forest soil-borne fungi through earthworm consumption and casting. iForest 8: 295-301. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1217-008

Academic Editor

Alberto Santini

Paper history

Received: Dec 26, 2013
Accepted: May 24, 2014

First online: Aug 26, 2014
Publication Date: Jun 01, 2015
Publication Time: 3.13 months

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