Small-scale spatial variability in the distribution of ectomycorrhizal fungi affects plant performance and fungal diversity

Stav Livne-Luzon, Ofer Ovadia, Gil Weber, Yael Avidan, Hen Migael, Sydney I. Glassman, Thomas D. Bruns, Hagai Shemesh

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effects of spatial heterogeneity in negative biological interactions on individual performance and species diversity have been studied extensively. However, little is known about the respective effects involving positive biological interactions, including the symbiosis between plants and ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. Using a greenhouse bioassay, we explored how spatial heterogeneity of natural soil inoculum influences the performance of pine seedlings and composition of their root-associated EM fungi. When the inoculum was homogenously distributed, a single EM fungal taxon dominated the roots of most pine seedlings, reducing the diversity of EM fungi at the treatment level, while substantially improving pine seedling performance. In contrast, clumped inoculum allowed the proliferation of several different EM fungi, increasing the overall EM fungal diversity. The most dominant EM fungal taxon detected in the homogeneous treatment was also a highly beneficial mutualist, implying that the trade-off between competitive ability and mutualistic capacity does not always exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1202
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Pinus halepensis
  • mutualism
  • priority effects
  • spatial heterogeneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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