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Oecologia

, Volume 176, Issue 4, pp 1075–1086 | Cite as

The interactions between plant life form and fungal traits of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi determine the symbiotic community

  • Álvaro López-García
  • Concepción Azcón-Aguilar
  • José M. Barea
Plant-microbe-animal interactions - Original research

Abstract

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have traditionally been considered generalist symbionts. However, an increasing number of studies are pointing out the selectivity potential of plant hosts. Plant life form, determined by plant life history traits, seems to drive the AM fungal community composition. The AM fungi also exhibit a wide diversity of functional traits known to be responsible for their distribution in natural ecosystems. However, little is known about the role of plant and fungal traits driving the resultant symbiotic assemblages. With the aim of testing the feedback relationship between plant and fungal traits on the resulting AM fungal community, we inoculated three different plant life forms, i.e. annual herbs, perennial herbs and perennial semi-woody plants, with AM fungal communities sampled in different seasons. We hypothesized that the annual climate variation will induce changes in the mean traits of the AM fungal communities present in the soil throughout the year. Furthermore, the association of plants with different life forms with AM fungi with contrasting life history traits will show certain preferences according to reciprocal traits of the plants and fungi. We found changes in the AM fungal community throughout the year, which were differentially disrupted by disturbance and altered by plant growth form and plant biomass. Both plant and fungal traits clearly contributed to the resultant AM fungal communities. The revealed process can have implications for the functioning of ecosystems since changes in dominant plant life forms or climatic variables could influence the traits of AM fungal communities in soil and hence ecosystem processes.

Keywords

Life history traits Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism Symbiosis assembly Mediterranean environments Functional diversity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Dr Álvaro 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 government under the Plan Nacional de I+D+I (project CGL-2009-08825). We sincerely thank Dr John N. Klironomos and Dr Alexander Koch for their suggestions in the early stages of the experimental design and Mr Domingo Álvarez for technical assistance. We also thank the Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía (Spain) for permission to work in the Sierra de Baza Natural Park as well as the Real Jardín Botánico (Madrid, CSIC) and the Banco de Germoplasma Vegetal Andaluz (Córdoba, Junta de Andalucía) for providing us with the seeds used in this study.

Supplementary material

442_2014_3091_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (109 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 108 kb)
442_2014_3091_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (17 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 16 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Álvaro López-García
    • 1
    • 2
  • Concepción Azcón-Aguilar
    • 1
  • José M. Barea
    • 1
  1. 1.Soil Microbiology and Symbiotic Systems DepartmentCSIC-Estación Experimental del ZaidínGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Section for Terrestrial Ecology, Department of BiologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen ØDenmark

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