The influence of environmental degradation processes on the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community associated with yew (Taxus baccata L.), an endangered tree species from Mediterranean ecosystems of Southeast Spain
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To assess whether the yew roots, which are able to provide a very constant environment due to their long life-span, can maintain the original arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal community during yew population decline.
The diversity of AM fungi (AMF) colonizing the roots of yew was analyzed by selecting the small subunit ribosomal RNA genes to construct a database of the overall community of AMF in the experimental area. A terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) approach was used to identify the AMF communities present in yew roots. Physiological and environmental variables related to topology and soil and plant characteristics were determined as markers of habitat degradation.
The AMF communities within yew roots were found to be dependent on soil, plant and topological variables indicative of habitat degradation surrounding the yew. The phylogenetic diversity of AMF associated to the yews was lower in habitats more exposed to degradation than in those better conserved.
The target yews can be grouped into two degradation levels. AMF communities were also affected by the degradation processes affecting their hosts. This finding rules out the role of these trees as refugia for their original AMF community, a fact that should be considered in plant reintroduction programs using AMF as bioenhancers.
KeywordsArbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Taxus baccata Mediterranean degraded areas TRFLP Refugial habitats
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Principal component analysis
Polymerase chain reaction
Specific leaf area
Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism
A. López-García thanks the Formación de Personal Investigador Programme (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain) for financial support. This research was supported by the Spanish Goverment under the Plan Nacional de I+D+I (project CGL-2009-08825). We strongly thank Dr. I. Sánchez-Castro for the permission to use the Sierra de Baza AMF database created during his PhD Thesis. We also sincerely thank Professor P. Jeffries (Univ. of Kent) for grammatical corrections to the manuscript. We thank the Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía (Spain) for permission to work in Sierra de Baza Natural Park and to Drs. F. Bruno and J. Molero for helping us to identify and interpret vegetation inventories. Additionally, we would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the Section Editor for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the manuscript.
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