Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities are phylogenetically clustered at small scales

Sebastian Horn, Tancredi Caruso, Erik Verbruggen, Matthias C. Rillig, Stefan Hempel

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94 Citations (Scopus)


Next-generation sequencing technologies with markers covering the full Glomeromycota phylum were used to uncover phylogenetic community structure of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) associated with Festuca brevipila. The study system was a semi-arid grassland with high plant diversity and a steep environmental gradient in pH, C, N, P and soil water content. The AMF community in roots and rhizosphere soil were analyzed separately and consisted of 74 distinct operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in total. Community-level variance partitioning showed that the role of environmental factors in determining AM species composition was marginal when controlling for spatial autocorrelation at multiple scales. Instead, phylogenetic distance and spatial distance were major correlates of AMF communities: OTUs that were more closely related (and which therefore may have similar traits) were more likely to co-occur. This pattern was insensitive to phylogenetic sampling breadth. Given the minor effects of the environment, we propose that at small scales closely related AMF positively associate through biotic factors such as plant-AMF filtering and interactions within the soil biota.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2231–2242
JournalThe ISME Journal
Early online date13 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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