Microbial Ecology

, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 447–458 | Cite as

Predictors of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities in the Brazilian Tropical Dry Forest

  • Natália M. F. Sousa
  • Stavros D. Veresoglou
  • Fritz Oehl
  • Matthias C. Rillig
  • Leonor C. Maia
Soil Microbiology


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are symbiotic fungi with a broad distribution, and many taxa have physiological and ecological adaptations to specific environments, including semiarid ecosystems. Our aim was to address regional distribution patterns of AMF communities in such semiarid environments based on spore morphological techniques. We assessed AMF spores at the bottom and top of inselbergs distributed throughout the tropical dry forest in the Northeast region of Brazil. Across 10 replicate inselbergs and the surrounding area, spanning a range of altitude between 140 and 2000 m, we scored the AMF soil diversity and properties in 52 plots. We fitted parsimonious ordination analyses and variance partitioning models to determine the environmental factors which explained the variation in AMF community, based on morphological spore analysis. The diversity of AMF was similar at the bottom and top of inselbergs; however, we detected high variation in abundance and richness across sites. We formulated a parsimonious richness model that used physical soil factors as predictors. The AMF community structure could be best explained through the variables coarse and total sand, iron, organic matter, potassium, silt, and sodium which together accounted for 17.8% of total variance. Several AMF species were indicators of either deficiency or high values of specific soil properties. We demonstrated that habitat isolation of the inselbergs compared with surrounding areas did not trigger differences in AMF communities in semiarid regions of Brazil. At the regional scale, soil predictors across sites drove the distribution of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.


Distribution pattern Diversity Inselbergs Semiarid ecosystems Soil ecology 



The authors would like to thank Coordenação de aperfeiçoamento de pessoal de nível superior (CAPES), proc.: 1374510, and the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), proc.: 206415/2014-1 for financial support of the research and authors’ collaboration.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

248_2017_1042_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas, Departamento de MicologiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Institut für BiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.EcotoxicologyAgroscope Reckenholz—AgroscopeZürichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB)BerlinGermany

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