Extreme environments simplify reassembly of communities of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Nataša Šibanc, Dave R. Clark, Thorunn Helgason, Alex J. Dumbrell*, Irena Maček*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The ecological impacts of long-term (press) disturbance on mechanisms regulating the relative abundance (i.e., commonness or rarity) and temporal dynamics of species within a community remain largely unknown. This is particularly true for the functionally important arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi; obligate plant-root endosym­bionts that colonize more than two-thirds of terrestrial plant species. Here, we use high-resolution amplicon sequencing to examine how AM fungal communities in a specific extreme ecosystem—mofettes or natural CO2 springs caused by geological CO2 exhalations—are affected by long-term stress. We found that in mofettes, specific and temporally stable communities form as a subset of the local metacommunity. These communities are less diverse and dominated by adapted, “stress tolerant” taxa. Those taxa are rare in control locations and more benign environments worldwide, but show a stable temporal pattern in the extreme sites, consistently dominating the communities in grassland mofettes. This pattern of lower diversity and high dominance of specific taxa has been confirmed as relatively stable over several sampling years and is independently observed across multiple geographic locations (mofettes in different countries). This study implies that the response of soil microbial community composition to long-term stress is relatively predictable, which can also reflect the community response to other anthropogenic stressors (e.g., heavy metal pollution or land use change). Moreover, as AM fungi are functionally differentiated, with different taxa providing different benefits to host plants, changes in community structure in response to long-term environmental change have the potential to impact terrestrial plant communities and their productivity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01331-23
Number of pages22
Issue number3
Early online date20 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • elevated CO2
  • long-term experiments
  • soil biodiversity
  • soil hypoxia
  • next-generation sequencing (NGS)


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