Context:dependency, co-introductions, novel mutualisms, and host shifts shaped the ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of the alien tree Eucalyptus globulus.
The identity and relevance of the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal partners of Eucalyptus globulus was investigated in NW Spain, to detect which symbionts mainly support its invasiveness. Root tips of E. globulus and of three common native plant species (Quercus robur, Pinus pinaster and Halimium lasianthum) were collected in eucalypt plantations, Q. robur forests, P. pinaster plantations and shrublands. Fungal taxonomical identity was ascertained by use of rDNA and direct sequencing. We studied diversity, composition and colonization rate of the ECM fungal communities of E. globulus to determine if fungal assemblages are host specific (i.e. similar in different habitats) or more dependent on the neighbourhood context. We also identified the type of associations formed (i.e. co-introductions, familiar or novel associations). Twenty-six ECM taxa were associated with E. globulus. Most of them engaged in novel associations with eucalypts, whereas only three fungal species were co-introduced Australian aliens. Eucalypt fungal richness, diversity and colonization rate differed between habitats, being higher in native oak forests, whereas in shrublands E. globulus showed the lowest colonization rate and diversity. The Australian fungus Descolea maculata dominated the eucalypt fungal assemblage and also spread to the native host plants, in all the habitats, posing the risk of further co-invasion.