Interactive effects of root endophytes and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on an experimental plant community
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Rillig, M.C., Wendt, S., Antonovics, J. et al. Oecologia (2014) 174: 263. doi:10.1007/s00442-013-2759-8
Plant-soil microbial interactions have moved into focus as an important mechanism for understanding plant coexistence and composition of communities. Both arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) as well as other root endophytic fungi co-occur in plant roots, and therefore have the potential to influence relative abundances of plant species in local assemblages. However, no study has experimentally examined how these key root endosymbiont groups might interact and affect plant community composition. Here, using an assemblage of five plant species in mesocosms in a fully factorial experiment, we added an assemblage of AM fungi and/or a mixture of root endophytic fungal isolates, all obtained from the same grassland field site. The results demonstrate that the AM fungi and root endophytes interact to affect plant community composition by changing relative species abundance, and consequently aboveground productivity. Our study highlights the need to explicitly consider interactions of root-inhabiting fungal groups in studies of plant assemblages.