Land use and host neighbor identity effects on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community composition in focal plant rhizosphere
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- Morris, E.K., Buscot, F., Herbst, C. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2013) 22: 2193. doi:10.1007/s10531-013-0527-z
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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) provide a number of ecosystem services as important members of the soil microbial community. Increasing evidence suggests AMF diversity is at least partially controlled by the identities of plants in the host plant neighborhood. However, much of this evidence comes from greenhouse studies or work in invaded systems dominated by single plant species, and has not been tested in species-rich grasslands. We worked in 67 grasslands spread across the three German Biodiversity Exploratories that are managed primarily as pastures and meadows, and collected data on AMF colonization, AMF richness, AMF community composition, plant diversity, and land use around focal Plantagolanceolata plants. We analyzed the data collected within each Exploratory (ALB Schwäbische Alb, HAI Hainich-Dün, SCH Schorfheide-Chorin) separately, and used variance partitioning to quantify the contribution of land use, host plant neighborhood, and spatial arrangement to the effect on AMF community composition. We performed canonical correspondence analysis to quantify the effect of each factor independently by removing the variation explained by the other factors. AMF colonization declined with increasing land use intensity (LUI) along with concurrent increases in non-AMF, suggesting that the ability of AMF to provide protection from pathogens declined under high LUI. In ALB and HAI mowing frequency and percent cover of additional P. lanceolata in the host plant neighborhood were important for AMF community composition. The similar proportional contribution of land use and host neighborhood to AMF community composition in a focal plant rhizosphere suggests that the diversity of this important group of soil microbes is similarly sensitive to changes at large and small scales.