Effects of livestock grazing intensity on soil arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and glomalin-related soil protein in a mountain forest steppe and a desert steppe of Mongolia
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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are important components of the grassland ecosystems in terms of plant phosphorus uptake and accumulation of glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP). Though Mongolian grasslands are seriously degraded by livestock grazing, the effects of grazing on soil AMF and GRSP remain unclear. Here, we examined community composition and diversity of AMF as well as amount of GRSP at three different grazing intensities: lightly grazed (LG), moderately grazed (MG), and heavily grazed (HG) under two different types of grassland, mountain forest steppe at Hustai and desert steppe at Mandalgobi. The diversity and biomass of AMF-host and non-AMF plants strongly affected the overall AMF community composition and its diversity. When we separately analyzed the factors affecting soil AMF diversity at Hustai and Mandalgobi, decrease in the shoot biomass of Poaceae plants at Hustai and decreases in the species number and shoot biomass of AMF-host plants at Mandalgobi were significantly correlated with AMF diversity. GRSP decreased with increasing grazing intensity, which was significantly correlated with soil pH and total root biomass at Hustai. The decrease in plant biomass caused by grazing thus led to GRSP reduction. Our results showed that change in soil AMF community caused by livestock grazing were associated with change in the biomass and diversity of functional vegetation groups such as Poaeceae, AMF-host and non-AMF plants, indicating the importance to focus on such functional vegetation groups to evaluate the effect of grazing on AMF.
KeywordsDryland Mandalgovi Mycorrhizal plant Nonmycorrhizal plant Poaceae
Mongolian soil and plant samples used for the analysis were transported to Japan with the permission of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Mineral Resource Authority, Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Mongolia, and the Plant Protection Station, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan. This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant no. 26304046 from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan, and by the Joint Research Program of the Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University (2014–2015). We also appreciated for the two anonymous reviewers to their valuable and helpful comments to the manuscript.
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