Plant and Soil

, Volume 441, Issue 1–2, pp 499–510 | Cite as

Effects of fairy ring fungi on plants and soil in the alpine and temperate grasslands of China

  • Chao Yang
  • Jingjing Li
  • Nan Liu
  • Yingjun ZhangEmail author
Regular Article



Soil fungi are considered to be key regulators of plant and soil relationships. The fairy rings (FRs) caused by basidiomycete fungi can influence plant productivity and soil nutrient and microbiome composition. We sought to explore the role of FRs in plant communities and soil properties for two types of grasslands in China.


Plant and soil samples were collected from three concentric zones: outside the ring (OUT), on the ring (ON), and inside the ring (IN). Data were collected on plant productivity, plant diversity, soil properties, and soil bacterial diversity.


We found that FRs significantly improved plant productivity and diversity in both alpine and temperate grasslands. In the alpine grassland, soil water content, pH and bacterial diversity were lower in the ON zone compared to the OUT zone. Likewise, in temperate grasslands, water content was lower in the ON zone compared to both OUT and IN zones. Also, soil pH and bacterial diversity were higher on the ON zone compared to other both zones.


Based on our data, we believe that FR fungi increase plant productivity and diversity, and change the composition of soil bacterial species and diversity. We suggest that the effects of FR fungi on plants included the increase of the soil nutrient content and the effects of FR fungi on soil bacteria included the changes in soil water content and pH value.


Fairy rings Saprotrophic fungi Plant-soil relationships Plant diversity Soil properties 



We are grateful to the staff at the National Field Research Station of Grassland Science in Hebei Province, and the Haibei Demonstration Zone of Plateau Modern Ecological Animal Husbandry Science and Technology in Qinghai Province, China for their help with field work. This work was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31830092) and China Forage and Grass Research System (CARS-35).

Supplementary material

11104_2019_4141_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 25 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Grassland Science and TechnologyChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Grassland Management and Rational UtilizationMinistry of AgricultureBeijingChina

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