Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 2193–2205 | Cite as

Land use and host neighbor identity effects on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community composition in focal plant rhizosphere

  • E. Kathryn Morris
  • Francois Buscot
  • Christine Herbst
  • Torsten Meiners
  • Elisabeth Obermaier
  • Nicole W. Wäschke
  • Tesfaye Wubet
  • Matthias C. Rillig
Original Paper


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 Plantago lanceolata 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.


Biodiversity exploratories Diversity Fertilization Grazing Land use intensity Mowing 



We would like to thank Ruth Lintermann for help in the lab at FU Berlin, and the local-implementation teams in each Exploratory for help in the field. We thank the managers of the three exploratories, Swen Renner, Sonja Gockel, Kerstin Wiesner, and Martin Gorke for their work in maintaining the plot and project infrastructure; Simone Pfeiffer and Christiane Fischer for giving support through the central office, Michael Owonibi for managing the central data base, and Markus Fischer, Eduard Linsenmair, Dominik Hessenmöller, Jens Nieschulze, Daniel Prati, Ingo Schöning, Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Wolfgang W. Weisser and the late Elisabeth Kalko for their role in setting up the Biodiversity Exploratories project. Two anonymous reviewers provided many suggestions for revision. The work has been funded by the DFG Priority Program 1374 “Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories” (DFG-Refno.). Field work permits were issued by the responsible state environmental offices of Baden-Württemberg, Thüringen, and Brandenburg (according to § 72 BbgNatSchG).

Supplementary material

10531_2013_527_MOESM1_ESM.doc (86 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 85 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Kathryn Morris
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francois Buscot
    • 3
    • 4
  • Christine Herbst
    • 5
  • Torsten Meiners
    • 6
  • Elisabeth Obermaier
    • 5
  • Nicole W. Wäschke
    • 6
  • Tesfaye Wubet
    • 3
  • Matthias C. Rillig
    • 1
  1. 1.Dahlem Center of Plant Sciences, Institute für BiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiologyXavier UniversityCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Soil EcologyUFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchHalle/SaaleGermany
  4. 4.Institute of BiologyUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical BiologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Biology, Applied Zoology/Animal EcologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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