Competitive avoidance not edaphic specialization drives vertical niche partitioning among sister species of ectomycorrhizal fungi

Alija B. Mujic, Daniel M. Durall, Joseph W. Spatafora, Peter G Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil depth partitioning is thought to promote the diversity of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal communities, but little is known about whether it is controlled by abiotic or biotic factors. In three bioassay experiments, we tested the role of vertical soil heterogeneity in determining the distributions and competitive outcomes of the EM sister species Rhizopogon vinicolor and Rhizopogon vesiculosus. We planted Pseudotsuga menziesii seedlings into soils that were either a homogenized mix of upper and lower depths or vertically stratified combinations mimicking natural field conditions. We found that both species colonized the upper or lower soil depths in the absence of competition, suggesting that their distributions were not limited by abiotic edaphic factors. In competition within homogeneous soils, R. vesiculosus completely excluded colonization by R. vinicolor, but R. vinicolor was able to persist when soils were stratified. The amount of colonization by R. vinicolor in the stratified soils was also significantly correlated with the number of multilocus genotypes present. Taken together, our findings suggest that the differential vertical distributions of R. vinicolor and R. vesiculosus in natural settings are probably attributable to competition rather than edaphic specialization, but that soil heterogeneity may play a key role in promoting EM fungal diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1174-1183
Number of pages10
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume209
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

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niches
Fungi
Soil
Rhizopogon
fungi
soil heterogeneity
soil depth
soil
fungal communities
edaphic factors
Pseudotsuga menziesii
bioassays
Pseudotsuga
environmental factors
seedlings
genotype
Seedlings
Biological Assay
Genotype

Keywords

  • Competitive interactions
  • Ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi
  • Edaphic specialization
  • Multilocus genotyping
  • Niche partitioning

Cite this

Competitive avoidance not edaphic specialization drives vertical niche partitioning among sister species of ectomycorrhizal fungi. / Mujic, Alija B.; Durall, Daniel M.; Spatafora, Joseph W.; Kennedy, Peter G.

In: New Phytologist, Vol. 209, No. 3, 01.02.2016, p. 1174-1183.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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