Anthropogenic and soil environmental drivers of arbuscular mycorrhizal community composition differ between grassland ecosystems

Research paper by Alice G. Tipton, Elizabeth L. Middleton, William G. Spollen, Candace Galen

Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 06 Nov '18Published in: Botany


Botany, e-First Articles. Interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and plants are sensitive to a myriad of underlying factors, including soil chemistry and land-use disturbances. Here we address how two grassland ecosystems (Ozark glades vs. tallgrass prairies) in south-central USA have been impacted by legacy effects from land-use disturbances (e.g., fire suppression in glades and tillage, fertilizer, row cropping, and grazing in prairies) and geological substrate (acidic versus calcareous bedrock). We surveyed AMF on the roots of two native generalist host species [Ruellia humilis Nutt. and Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash] as well as plants randomly selected from the plant community. Glades on calcareous bedrock had a higher pH than those on acidic bedrock, and AMF communities on all three root sample types varied between acidic and calcareous bedrock locations. In prairies, both bedrock types had a similar soil pH, and AMF communities on all three root sample types varied across remnant and disturbed prairies. Shifts in AMF composition across land-use history included shifts in dominant AMF genera, and some unique rare AMF taxa were restricted to only calcareous glades or remnant prairies. Our findings suggest that reseeding prairie plant communities on cultivated lands does not restore AMF communities. Restoration projects need to address the soil environment and community.