Small-scale spatial heterogeneity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal abundance and community composition in a wetland plant community
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- Wolfe, B.E., Mummey, D.L., Rillig, M.C. et al. Mycorrhiza (2007) 17: 175. doi:10.1007/s00572-006-0089-y
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Although it has become increasingly clear that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play important roles in population, community, and ecosystem ecology, there is limited information on the spatial structure of the community composition of AMF in the field. We assessed small-scale spatial variation in the abundance and molecular diversity of AMF in a calcareous fen, where strong underlying environmental gradients such as depth to water table may influence AMF. Throughout an intensively sampled 2 × 2 m plot, we assessed AMF inoculum potential at a depth of 0–6 and 6–12 cm and molecular diversity of the AMF community using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism of 18S rDNA. Inoculum potential was only significantly spatially autocorrelated at a depth of 6–12 cm and was significantly positively correlated with depth to water table at both depths. Molecular diversity of the AMF community was highly variable within the plot, ranging from 2–14 terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs) per core, but the number of T-RFs did not relate to water table or plant species richness. Plant community composition was spatially autocorrelated at small scales, but AMF community composition showed no significant spatial autocorrelation. Saturated soils of calcareous fens contain many infective AMF propagules and the abundance and diversity of AMF inoculum is patchy over small spatial scales.