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Citation. Johnson, N. C.; Tilman, D.; Wedin, D. 1992. Plant and soil controls on mycorrhizal fungal communities. Ecology 73(6):2034-2042. [1088 E001 LTER]
Abstract. A field experiment was conducted to examine the relative importance of soil factors and plant species on communities of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi. Populations of VAM fungal spores were studied in 4-yr-old monocultures of five successional grass species grown in a gradient of soil mixtures ranging from pure subsurface sand to pure sandy loam topsoil. A total of 19 species of VAM fungi were found across all treatments. Of the 12 most abundant VAM fungal species, 6 species had a significant dependence on both soil mixture and host species, while 2 were dependent only on soil and 2 only on host. To our knowledge, these are the first results indicating that even closely related hosts (five grasses) may cause divergence in VAM fungal communities on initially identical soils. Cluster analysis of the similarity of fungal communities by host plant species showed the fungal communities in the two late successional grasses to be most similar to one another and least similar to the fungal communities in the early successional grass species. Cluster analysis of the similarity of fungal communities by soil mixture showed the fungal communities in the sandy end of the soil gradient diverged predictably from the fungal communities in the black soil end of the gradient. These results support the hypothesis that soil factors and plant species may be of equal importance in regulating the species composition of VAM fungal communities.
Keywords. Cedar Creek, edaphic effects, host plant effects, spore populations, successional grasses, VAM fungal communities, V-A mycorrhizae