Composition of fungal soil communities varies with plant abundance and geographic origin

Vanessa Reininger, Laura B. Martinez-garcia, Laura Sanderson, Pedro M. Antunes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Interactions of belowground fungal communities with exotic and native plant species may be important drivers of plant community structure in invaded grasslands. However, field surveys linking plant community structure with belowground fungal communities are missing. We investigated whether a selected number of abundant and relatively rare plants, either native or exotic, from an old-field site associate with different fungal communities. We also assessed whether these plants showed different symbiotic relationships with soil biota through their roots. We characterized the plant community and collected roots to investigate fungal communities using 454 pyrosequencing and assessed arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization and enemy-induced lesions. Differences in fungal communities were considered based on the assessment of α- and β diversity depending on plant ‘abundance’ and ‘origin’. Plant abundance and origin determined the fungal community. Fungal richness was higher for native abundant as opposed to relatively rare native plant species. However, this was not observed for exotics of contrasting abundance. Regardless of their origin, β diversity was higher for rare than for abundant species. Abundant exotics in the community, which happen to be grasses, were the least mycorrhizal whereas rare natives were most susceptible to enemy attack. Our results suggest that compared with exotics, the relative abundance of remnant native plant species in our old-field site is still linked to the structure of belowground fungal communities. In contrast, exotic species may act as a disturbing agent contributing towards the homogenization of soil fungal communities, potentially changing feedback interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberplv110
JournalAoB Plants
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2015

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