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Global taxonomic and phylogenetic assembly of AM fungi


Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are a ubiquitous group of plant symbionts, yet processes underlying their global assembly — in particular the roles of dispersal limitation and historical drivers — remain poorly understood. Because earlier studies have reported niche conservatism in AM fungi, we hypothesized that variation in taxonomic community composition (i.e., unweighted by taxon relatedness) should resemble variation in phylogenetic community composition (i.e., weighted by taxon relatedness) which reflects ancestral adaptations to historical habitat gradients. Because of the presumed strong dispersal ability of AM fungi, we also anticipated that the large-scale structure of AM fungal communities would track environmental conditions without regional discontinuity. We used recently published AM fungal sequence data (small‐subunit ribosomal RNA gene) from soil samples collected worldwide to reconstruct global patterns in taxonomic and phylogenetic community variation. The taxonomic structure of AM fungal communities was primarily driven by habitat conditions, with limited regional differentiation, and there were two well-supported clusters of communities — occurring in cold and warm conditions. Phylogenetic structure was driven by the same factors, though all relationships were markedly weaker. This suggests that niche conservatism with respect to habitat associations is weakly expressed in AM fungal communities. We conclude that the composition of AM fungal communities tracks major climatic and edaphic gradients, with the effects of dispersal limitation and historic factors considerably less apparent than those of climate and soil.

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This study was supported by the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence EcolChange), Estonian Research Council (PRG609, PRG632, PRG1065, PRG1170, MOBTP105), the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education (# 075–15-2021–1396), and the University of Tartu (PLTOM20903).

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Correspondence to Martti Vasar.

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Vasar, M., Davison, J., Sepp, SK. et al. Global taxonomic and phylogenetic assembly of AM fungi. Mycorrhiza 32, 135–144 (2022).

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  • Community assembly
  • Metabarcoding
  • Microbial biogeography
  • Soil microbes