Unraveling the relationship between plant species and physicochemical properties on rhizosphere and rhizoplane fungal communities in alpine wet meadows

Awais Iqbal, Muhammad Maqsood Ur Rehman, Muhammad Usman, Wasim Sajjad, Jiahuan Niu, Abraham Allan Degen, Muhammad Rafiq, Zhanhuan Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Wet meadows, a type of wetland, are impacted by significant climate fluctuation and human activity, impacting soil microorganisms that play an essential role in ecosystem processes. Understanding the underlying ecological mechanisms and processes of wet meadows depends on the fungal communities associated with the plant roots. We used Illumina MiSeq profiling for amplicon sequencing to determine how environmental factors and elevation affect the fungal communities of the rhizosphere and rhizoplane related to three plant species, Cremanthodium ellisii, Cremanthodium lineare, and Caltha scaposa, in alpine wet meadows. Results: The phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota dominated the rhizosphere (54.5% and 20.9%) and rhizoplane (51.6% and 36.4%), while the predominant fungal genera in the rhizosphere and rhizoplane were Unclassified fungi, Unclassified Ascomycota, Pseudeurotium, Tetracladium, Vishniacozyma, Rhodotorula, Cadophora, and Penicillium. Mantel test and network analysis revealed that the soil water content (SWC), soil organic carbon (SOC), and total nitrogen (TN) were the primary drivers of fungal communities. However, the influence of microbial biomass C (MBC), pH, microbial biomass N (MBN), and elevation varied. Stochastic assembly processes were dominant in both rhizosphere and rhizoplane fungal communities. FUNGuild functional prediction revealed site-specific variation in the trophic level and guild of plant-root-associated fungal communities. The rhizosphere contained 58.5% saprotrophs, 11.7% pathotrophs, and 12.6% symbiotrophs. In addition, 60.4% of the observed OTUs were arbuscular mycorrhizae, 13.2% were endophytes, 20.9% were ectomycorrhizae, and 1.09% were orchid mycorrhizae. The rhizoplane comprised 51.3% of OTUs linked with saprotrophs, 13.9% with pathotrophs, and 7.92% with symbiotrophs. Moreover, 36.1% of OTUs represented arbuscular mycorrhizae, 25.0% were endophytes, 30.6% were ectomycorrhizae, and 2.77% were ascribed to orchid mycorrhizae in the rhizoplane. The abundance of saprotrophs and pathotrophs in the rhizosphere was highest in C. ellisii at SI and SIII, while symbiotrophs were highest in C. lineare at SIII. Similar variations among the plant species and sites were observed in the fungal functional groups (guilds). Conclusions: It was concluded that although root compartments significantly influenced the fungal communities in the rhizosphere and rhizoplane, environmental factors and plant types exhibited distinct effects. This study explains how physicochemical properties, plant species, and sites can alter the overall structure and functional repertoire of fungal communities in alpine wet meadows. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number115
JournalEnvironmental Sciences Europe
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Fungal community
  • FUNGuild
  • Rhizoplane
  • Rhizosphere
  • Wet meadow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution


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