- Mat-forming ectomycorrhizal (EcM) fungi represent a prevalent constituent of many temperate forest ecosystems and create dramatic changes in soil structure and chemistry. EcM mat soil have been shown to have increased microbial respiration rates and have been hypothesized to harbor unique assemblages of fungi and bacteria. The objectives of this dissertation were to characterize and examine the fungal and bacterial communities associated with EcM mats in old-growth forests of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest located in the Oregon Cascades. Additionally, this work assessed the application of traditional, emerging, and novel molecular sampling techniques for determining microbial communities of environmental samples. This research investigated the microbial communities associated with two common EcM mat genera found in old-growth Douglas fir stands in the Pacific Northwest; Piloderma (Atheliales, Basidiomycota) and Ramaria (Gomphales, Basidiomycota). Soil samples were collected from Piloderma and Ramaria mats and surrounding non- mat soil for molecular analysis of nucleic acids. First, a comparative study was conducted to determine the most appropriate rDNA molecular sampling technique for microbial community characterization. Two next-generation sequencing methods, Roche 454 pyrosequencing and Illumina-based environmental sequencing, the latter developed by the author, were compared to a more traditional sequencing approach, i.e., Sanger sequencing of clone libraries. These findings informed the subsequent sampling of the fungal ITS and bacterial 16S rDNA fragment with 454 pyrosequencing to determine the microbial communities within mat and non-mat soils. Second, this work utilized a pyrosequencing approach to explore fungal community structure in EcM mat and non-mat soils. This work concluded that differences in microbial communities do exist between Piloderma mat, Ramaria mat, and non-mat soils, but the differences are largely quantitative with relatively few distinct taxonomic shifts in microbial constituents. Piloderma, Ramaria and Russula, in addition to being the dominant taxa found on mycorrhizal root tips, were found to be the most abundant taxa in bulk soils within their respective mat types or non-mat sample. The background fungal communities within the EcM mats in this study exhibited considerable taxonomic overlap with the exception of Piloderma vs. non-mat comparisons; Russula species dominated nonmat soils but tended to be excluded or significantly underrepresented in Piloderma mats. Lastly, this study explored the bacterial communities associated with Piloderma and Ramaria mats using lower- coverage 454-Jr pyrosequencing. Bacterial communities exhibited significant structure as a function of mat-type, soil horizon and pH, but this finding should be interpreted with respect to the nonrandom distribution of Piloderma-mats in the O- horizon and the Ramaria-mats in the A-horizon, and the tendancy for EcM mats to be more acidic than surrounding soils. Nonetheless, the total microbial (bacterial and fungal) community was typically dominated by the mat-forming taxa, or Russula, in the case of non-mat soils. While the presence of Piloderma mats did enrich or restrict some bacterial groups, soil pH was also found to be a significant driver of bacterial richness and taxonomic diversity. Fungal and bacterial richness were also found to be positively related to one another, regardless of soil horizon or EcM mat type. This work, taken together, contributes to the understanding of hyperdiversity and heterogeneity of microbial communities of temperate forest soils and highlights the potential for fungal and bacterial communities to be influenced by the presence of EcM mats.