Over twenty years farmland reforestation decreases fungal diversity of soils, but stimulates the return of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities
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Background and Aims
Although soil-inhabiting fungi can affect tree health and biomass production in managed and pristine forests, little is known about the sensitivity of the plant-fungal associations to long-term changes in land use. We aimed to investigate how reforestation of farmlands change soil characteristics and affected the recovery of soil fungal functional guilds.
We examined edaphic conditions and fungal communities (Illumina Sequencing) in three land-use types: primary forests (PF), secondary forests (SF, established over two decades ago) and active farmlands during May, July and September in Wuying, China.
Edaphic conditions and general fungal communities varied with land-use. Interestingly, overall fungal diversity was higher in soils at the farmland than at the forested sites, possibly as a result of recurring disturbances (tilling) allowing competitive release as described by the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Although ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity and richness were marginally higher in PF than in SF, the latter still hosted surprisingly diverse and abundant ectomycorrhizal fungal communities.
Reforestation largely restored fungal communities that were still in transition, as their composition in SF was distinct from that in PF. Our results highlight the ability of fungi grown in previously strongly managed agricultural land to rapidly respond to reforestation and thus provide support for forest trees.
KeywordsFungal community development Reforestation Fungal functional guild Atrazine Ectomycorrhizal fungal community
We are grateful to Mr. Quanyou Zhang and Mr. Minghao Zhang for their help with field sampling. Prof. Changlin Hui provided information on land-use history in Wuying. Mr. Lars Paulin provided advice and services in DNA sequencing. We would also thank the section editor and the two reviewers for providing detailed comments that helped us improve this work immeasurably. The study was supported by Tekes (project number 2975/31/2015).
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