Plant and Soil

, Volume 370, Issue 1–2, pp 355–366 | Cite as

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

  • Álvaro López-GarcíaEmail author
  • Stefan Hempel
  • Juan de D. Miranda
  • Matthias C. Rillig
  • José M. Barea
  • Concepción Azcón-Aguilar
Regular Article



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.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Taxus baccata Mediterranean degraded areas TRFLP Refugial habitats 



Arbuscular mycorrhizal


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


Principal component analysis


Polymerase chain reaction


Redundancy analysis


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.

Supplementary material

11104_2013_1625_MOESM1_ESM.doc (20 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 19 kb)
11104_2013_1625_Fig5_ESM.jpg (78 kb)
Fig. S1

Neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree based on the NS31-AML2 fragment of the SSU rDNA gene. Sequences from single AMF spores and root samples from the Sierra de Baza Natural Park are showed together with reference sequences from GeneBank. Numbers above branches indicate the bootstrap values. Only topologies with values ≥50 % are shown (1,000 replicates). Sequences are labelled according to the data set from which it originated (Tb-root = obtained from T. baccata roots; SB-root = from roots of other plants characteristic of the site; SB-spore = from spores isolated from the Sierra de Baza Natural Park), followed by the clone identity number. Sequences having a pairwise similarity higher than 97 % were clustered as phylotypes (delimited by vertical lines). Phylotypes are named following the closest virtual taxa code of MaarjAM database (Öpik et al. 2010). The prefix corresponds to the glomeromycotan family (following Krüger et al. 2012): Aca-Acaulosporaceae, Glo-Glomeraceae, Cla-Claroideoglomeraceae, Par-Paraglomeraceae, Pac-Pacisporaceae, Div-Diversisporaceae and Gig-Gigasporaceae. Mortierella polycephala was used as out-group. To reduce the size of the tree, half of the sequences were removed (JPEG 78 kb)

11104_2013_1625_MOESM2_ESM.tif (10.2 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 10489 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Álvaro López-García
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefan Hempel
    • 2
  • Juan de D. Miranda
    • 1
  • Matthias C. Rillig
    • 2
  • José M. Barea
    • 1
  • Concepción Azcón-Aguilar
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Microbiology and Symbiotic Systems DepartmentEstación Experimental del Zaidín, CSICGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Plant Ecology, Institut für BiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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