Roots and rhizospheres host diverse microbial communities that can influence the fitness, phenotypes, and environmental tolerances of plants. Documenting the biogeography of these microbiomes can detect the potential for a changing environment to disrupt host‐microbe interactions, particularly in cases where microbes buffer hosts against abiotic stressors. We evaluated whether root‐associated fungi had poleward declines in diversity, tested whether fungal communities in roots shifted near host plant range edges, and determined the relative importance of environmental and host predictors of root fungal community structure.
North American plains grasslands.
Foundation grasses –
At each of 24 sites representing three replicate 17°–latitudinal gradients, we collected roots from 12 individuals per species along five transects spaced 10 m apart (40 m × 40 m grid). We used next‐generation sequencing of ITS2, direct fungal culturing from roots, and microscopy to survey fungi associated with grass roots.
Root‐associated fungi did not follow the poleward declines in diversity documented for many animals and plants. Instead, host plant identity had the largest influence on fungal community structure. Edaphic factors outranked climate or host plant traits as correlates of fungal community structure; however, the relative importance of environmental predictors differed among plant species. As sampling approached host species range edges, fungal composition converged in similarity among individual plants of each grass species.
Environmental predictors of root‐associated fungi depended strongly on host plant species identity. Biogeographic patterns in fungal composition suggested a homogenizing influence of stressors at host plant range limits. Results predict that communities of non‐mycorrhizal, root‐associated fungi in the North American plains will be more sensitive to future changes in host plant ranges and edaphic factors than to the direct effects of climate.
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Biogeography
- Medium: X Size: p. 22-37
- ["p. 22-37"]
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Aim: Roots and rhizospheres host diverse microbial communities that can influence the fitness, phenotypes, and environmental tolerances of host plants. Documenting the biogeography of microbiomes can detect the potential for a changing environment to disrupt host-microbe interactions, particularly in cases where microbes, such as root-associated Ascomycota, buffer hosts against abiotic stressors. We evaluated whether root-associated fungi had poleward declines in diversity as occur for many animals and plants, tested whether microbial communities shifted near host plant range edges, and determined the relative importance of latitude, climate, edaphic factors, and host plant traits as predictors of fungal community structure. Location: North American plains grasslands Taxon: Foundation North American grass species ⎯ Andropogon gerardii, Bouteloua eriopoda, B. gracilis, B. dactyloides, and Schizachyrium scoparium and their root-associated fungi Methods: At each of 24 sites representing three replicate latitudinal gradients spanning 17° latitude, we collected roots from 12 individual plants per species along five transects spaced 10 m apart (40 m × 40 m grid). We used next-generation sequencing of the fungal ITS2 region, direct fungal culturing from roots, and microscopy to survey fungi associated with grass roots. Results: Root-associated fungi did not follow the poleward declines in diversity documented for many animals and plants. Instead, host plant identity had the largest influence on fungal community structure. Edaphic factors outranked climate or host plant traits as correlates of fungal community structure; however, the relative importance of these environmental predictors differed among plant species. As sampling approached host species range edges, fungal composition converged among individual plants of each grass species. Main conclusions: Environmental predictors of root-associated fungi depended strongly on host plant species identity. Biogeographic patterns in fungal composition suggested a homogenizing influence of stressors at host plant range limits. Results predict that communities of non-mycorrhizal, root-associated fungi in the North American plains will be more sensitive to future changes in host plant ranges and edaphic factors than to the direct effects of climate.more » « less
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