Historical biome distribution and recent human disturbance shape the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Meelis Pärtel, Maarja Öpik, Mari Moora, Leho Tedersoo, Robert Szava-Kovats, Søren Rosendahl, Matthias C. Rillig, Ylva Lekberg, Holger Kreft, Thorunn Helgason, Ove Eriksson, John Davison, Francesco de Bello, Tancredi Caruso, Martin Zobel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The availability of global microbial diversity data, collected using standardized metabarcoding techniques, makes microorganisms promising models for investigating the role of regional and local factors in driving biodiversity.

Here we modelled the global diversity of symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi using currently available data on AM fungal molecular diversity (small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequences) in field samples. To differentiate between regional and local effects, we estimated species pools (sets of potentially suitable taxa) for each site, which are expected to reflect regional processes. We then calculated community completeness, an index showing the fraction of the species pool present, which is expected to reflect local processes.

We found significant spatial variation, globally in species pool size, as well as in local and dark diversity (absent members of the species pool). Species pool size was larger close to areas containing tropical grasslands during the last glacial maximum, which are possible centres of diversification. Community completeness was greater in regions of high wilderness (remoteness from human disturbance). Local diversity was correlated with wilderness and current connectivity to mountain grasslands.

Applying the species pool concept to symbiotic fungi facilitated a better understanding of how biodiversity can be jointly shaped by large-scale historical processes and recent human disturbance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227 - 238
Number of pages12
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biodiversity
  • dark diversity
  • ice age
  • mycorrhizas
  • quaternay
  • species pool
  • tropical grassy biome
  • wilderness


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