Genetic analysis of Boletus edulis suggests that intra-specific competition may reduce local genetic diversity as a woodland ages
© 2020 The Authors. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are key players in terrestrial ecosystems yet their mating systems and population dynamics remain poorly understood. We investigated the fine-scale relatedness structure and genetic diversity of Boletus edulis, one of the world's most commercially important wild mushrooms. Microsatellite genotyping of fruiting bodies from 14 different sites around Bielefeld in Germany revealed little in the way of population structure over a geographic scale of several kilometres. However, on a more local scale we found evidence for elevated relatedness as well as inbreeding. We also observed a significant negative association between the genetic diversity of fruit and the age of the trees under which they were sampled. Taken together, our results suggest that as genets mature, they compete and potentially create conditions under which further spores struggle to become established. By implication, even though this species is widely picked, propagules remain common enough to create strong competition when new habitats become available.