Beech log decomposition by wood-inhabiting fungi in a cool temperate forest floor: a quantitative analysis focused on the decay activity of a dominant basidiomyceteOmphalotus guepiniformis

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Wood decay activity of Omphalotus guepiniformis, one of the most frequently occurring fruiting bodies on beech coarse woody debris in cool temperate forests in Japan, was estimated in situ by chronosequence with a five decay class system. The decay columns of O. guepiniformis increased from decay class 1 to decay class 2, where they occupied 20.2% of the total area of cross sections, and was estimated to be a dominant basidiomycete. The decay columns of O. guepiniformis decreased after decay class 2 and were not detected in decay class 5. The relative density of the decay columns of O. guepiniformis decreased to 0.33 g cm-3 in decay class 2 (58.9% of fresh beech wood) but did not decrease thereafter. The lignocellulose index (LCI) of the decay columns of O. guepiniformis slightly decreased during the decay process while remaining in the range of white-rot. In contrast, the decay columns of microfungi increased in the later stages of decomposition and LCI of these decay columns decreased significantly alongside the decay process. These results suggest that O. guepiniformis has an important role in simultaneous decomposition of acid-unhydrolyzable residue (AUR, Klason lignin) and holocellulose in the early stages of beech log decomposition, while holocellulose selective decomposition by microfungi may occur in the late stages of decomposition.

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