Habitat and diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi in forests of South Cameroon
Information is lacking on habitat and diversity of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi of African humid forests. For three years, mushroom excursions were carried out in four sites with contrasted soil and altitude characteristics of South Cameroon, during wet seasons. Collected fungi were described in fresh state and dried exsiccates examined for microscopic description before morpho-anatomical identification. ECM fungi abundantly fruited exclusively in mixed caesalp, monodominant Gilbertiodendron and Uapaca forest clumps, independently of elevation, rainfall, topography and soil texture. 21 ECM tree species in 11 genera belonging to two families, Ceasalpiniaceae and Phyllanthaceae, dominated ECM forest clumps. More than 100 putative ECM fungal species in 27 genera were identified and assigned to seven families and one super family group. Members of Russulaceae and Amanitaceae recruited the highest number of ECM taxa, followed by species of Boletoids and Cantharellaceae. Paxillus, Clavulina, Coltricia, Scleroderma, Cortinarius and Inocybe genera contained limited species. 12 ECM fungal species were locally edible, including Lactarius gymnocarpus and all chanterelles. Though, species richness was very large in a mountainous area, all four sites shared a substantial large number of ECM mushroom species. Low plant diversity but high fungal richness recommends ECM forest clumps for biodiversity sanctuaries.